‘The Family’ Film Review

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As a fall chill rolls on Oakwood, OHS students begin to look for things to do inside. The cinema season, coincidentally, is also beginning, with a variety of flicks foreign and domestic popping onto movie screens.

One screen in particular was filled with Luc Besson’s new film, The Family, where a representative of the Dome was witness to the Frenchman’s exercise in mobster dark comedy.

Western audiences are most familiar with Besson for his 1997 sci-fi mess The Fifth Element, but the filmmaker never ceased directing or producing after Bruce Willis’s absurd caper hit screens. Since then, his career has spawned numerous smaller features that ultimately have culminated in The Family.

Besson begins assembling his own elements for his new film strongly, with the first piece being the cast. Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfieffer, Dianna Argon and John D’Leo round out the four main characters, with Tommy Lee Jones playing a supporting role.

While D’Leo and Argon provide forgettable performances as archetypical children of an atypical environment, De Niro is a strong lead for the film. Playing an American-Italian mobster in France, his character struggles to adapt to a quiet life after being placed in the witness protection program. His character is dynamic and well defined throughout the course of the plot, despite some flaws which will be discussed later.

Michelle Pfieffer stars alongside De Niro as his wife, falling unfortunately into the archetype of the worrisome matriarch. Little to no character development comes from her character, nor are there any examples of uniqueness shining out from under her bland mask. Fortunately, Tommy Lee Jones provides a stable contrast, painting a significantly more nuanced character and demonstrating a more conflicted member of the character list.

With this mix of cast and both weak or strong actors and characters abundant, the quality of the plot comes as no surprise. The narrative largely adopts the same consistency of the cast, having highs and lows throughout in terms of plot quality. Most scenes range from genuinely interesting and developed to horrendously contrived in a matter of minutes, and while the film tries to reach something more, it is consistently unable.

It should be noted that the film tries, of course. But the sad matter of it is that it is not written to a high enough degree to reach its goals; it is an Icarus, trying to fly with wings made of wax.

The cinematography, however, makes the entire package (as cliched as it is) worth it. The movie’s wings, while made of wax and poor writing, are beautifully crafted, with transitional shots blending perfectly into the next scene. Color palettes are well done and match their scenes well, the tones of moments reflected in the hues present on the visual plane.

If anything, it is the one saving grace of the film.

When compared with the choices currently in theaters, The Family is indeed worth seeing. However, those looking for an intriguing and intricate bit of art as film ought to look elsewhere.

Overall: 3/5 stars

Cast: 3/5

Plot: 2/5

Cinematography: 4/5

By Paul O’Neill

oneill.paul@oakwoodschools.org

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