An unseen narrator looks back to 1956, on Staten Island, when Buddy, an Italian guy with big dreams, buys a house planning to live upstairs with his wife Estelle and run a bar downstairs. The first problem is Estelle's lack of confidence in Buddy. Then, Irish tenants upstairs refuse to move and won't pay rent; plus, the woman upstairs is about to have a baby. The next problem is the baby: once he's born, it's clear his father was Black. The Irish guy splits; Buddy evicts mother and child, then feels guilt and sets her up in a flat while she sorts out an adoption. Estelle's lack of faith, the Irish lass's spirit, Buddy's dream, racial prejudice, and the baby's fate play out. Written by
Apartment for rent in private home in Staten Island
Raymond DeFelitta, the director of the current release, "The Thing About my Folks", working with his own material, created this wonderful film, which should be seen more often. Unfortunately, when this film first came out, it had wonderful notices, but alas, it disappeared too soon for us to catch up with it. Thanks to HBO, the film was shown recently and it proved to be worthy of the praise we had heard about.
The story takes place in the fifties. The characters at the center of the film, are basically Italian-Americans living in Staten Island. Buddy and Estelle Visalo, are the owners of a two family house in need of repairs. The upstairs apartment has been rented to an Irish couple, Mary and Jim, who are going through a rough moment in their lives.
Buddy, with the help of his friends from the tavern that is the social meeting point of the neighborhood, is trying to evict the couple upstairs, after it's clear they are up to no good and can't pay the rent. It proves to be too late because Mary begins her labor pains and Estelle, who doesn't like the woman, helps in the delivery. But horror of horrors, the little baby proves to be much more than what Mary was expecting, and Jim abandons her.
The Italian landlord develops a friendship toward Mary, who he succeeds in evicting, but feels terribly about it. He rescues her from the flea bag hotel where she is staying since her own sister doesn't want her. Buddy finds, and pays, for an apartment for Mary and her son. It's clear that Buddy and Mary go from a friendship into a relationship that will change their lives forever.
The film works because the charismatic work of Michael Rispoli, who as Buddy, is a man with a heart of gold. Mr. Rispoli is an actor that is always good, no matter what character he plays. Also the movie has an inspired performance by Kelly MacDonald. Ms. MacDonald does good work as Mary. The supporting cast, Kartherine Narducci, Kevin Conway, Matt Servitto, Vincent Pastore, and the rest, are perfect.
We look forward future endeavors by Raymond DeFelitta, who proves with this film he can tell a story that involves the viewer in more ways than some others. "Two Family House" is a small movie, with a big heart!
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