The Family, or 'La Familia' as we are used to hearing it, comes first in the Mafia world. Luc Besson will have had this in mind when choosing the title of his latest film, the mafia themed, The Family. Starring Robert De Niro, this film holds a great deal of promise with a potentially exciting storyline. Can it, however, measure up to the lofty standards of ZAlebs' resident movie addict, Aviva Lange? Let's find out!
I must say this movie didn’t really appeal to me but as most of you can guess by now I am a movie addict. So, given the choice by friends to watch The Family or the disasterous debacle, Diana (uhm…no!) we booked our tickets and off we went to get the obligatory box of popcorn (heavily doctored with a mix of salt and vinegar and sour cream salt – yum!) and still water – no slush puppy for this princess! I was actually pleasantly surprised – I enjoyed this movie for the sheer humour it provided. Not exactly Richard Prior humor, but humor in a very “this is all just way too surreal to ever be taken seriously” kind of way.
The Family is an amusing, if somewhat confusing, hybrid of movie genres – a Goodfellas-style gangster movie that flips between comedy and violence to extreme sentiment that is set in Normandy. In one of the film's more atypical scenes, we actually watch as Robert De Niro's character sits through a viewing of Goodfellas at the locals monthly Movie Club that takes place at the town hall. He is suddenly a mobster boss turned philosopher.
The Manzoni family are under the protection of the FBI in their witness protection program, they have placed him in France with his family to (attempt to ) live in relative anonymity. He is a former Mob Boss from the Bronx who became a State witness in exchange for his family's protection. Why did he do this? It is never really explained. But all we know is that there is now a $20 million bounty on his head – as everybody knows, the Mob doesn't take kindly to rats.
The humour in this film is generally dependent on the obvious and often exaggerated differences between the two cultures. Characters we'd want to see in a film by the legendary Scorsese have been haphazardly thrown together in this picturesque countryside – a quaint and quiet town where cream and pasta reign supreme. Shifts in scenes from comedy to extreme violence seem disconcerting and lack relevance. De Niro, however, is captivating in a role which evokes memories of some rather legendary movies with Scorsese while still enjoying the comic schtick we've started to anticipate from him in recent movies - notably, Meet the Parents.
Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones and Dianna Agron are further complements to a strong cast and in my opinion they sell the movie and deliver strong performances. However, seeing this movie can wait for the DVD, it’s a good laugh but not one of 2013's more memorable movies ala Prisoners or even Behind the Candelabra.
(Image Credit: The Family Official Facebook Page)