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A Family Affair
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A Family Affair More at IMDbPro »

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A Vanity Production

Author: madbeast from Los Angeles, CA
22 November 2005

This appallingly contrived and humorless film about a Jewish lesbian who has two attractive women battling over her contains only one intriguing aspect: how Helen Lesnick (who wrote, directed and stars - all ineptly) managed to raise the funds to make this nonsense. Lesnick's heavy-handed, witless screenplay would have us believe that her obnoxious, self-absorbed and physically unappealing character would have two strikingly beautiful women battling over her without any indication of what each sees in this tiresome woman.

The sole bright spot is the radiant presence of Erica Shaffer, whose iridescent smile and warm personality brightens an otherwise pointless film. But casting such an attractive actress as the woman who would not only put up with having to duke it out with another woman to keep the relationship going, but is willing to convert to Judaisim for her love makes the situation all the more implausible. Lesnick is not only an untalented actress, but lacks the physical attractiveness to explain why such a beautiful woman would give her a second glance, much less make her her life-mate. Casting an actress more in Lesnick's league would have given the film a little more plausibility, but it also would have robbed it of the only reason to watch it in the first place. It also would have denied Lesnick the ego trip of playing love scenes with such a beautiful woman, which seems to have been the only reason for her to have made the film at all.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

No Woody in this flick

Author: George Parker from Orange County, CA USA
7 September 2003

"A Family Affair" is all about Rachel (Lesnick) who runs from a broken relationship in NY to San Diego where she falls for Christine (Shaffer) only to have her ex try to get her back...etc. Lesnick put this little indie together single handedly and it shows. The film is fraught with deficits including hackneyed material, trite dramatic or flip Woodyesque dialogue, stiff delivery, cost cutting everywhere, and Lesnick really belongs behind the lens. In spite of all that, I was marginally engrossed post climax in the drama of the denouement when the flick consolidates itself and finally gets real. Recommended for anyone who's interested in a romantic comedy about a woman who just happens to be gay. (C+)

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A terrible movie

Author: DLC95 from Massachusetts
5 January 2004

On just about every level. This is one of the worst lesbian movies ever made (although Claire of the Moon and that John Sayles movie, Lianna, are pretty good contenders as well). Dreadful writing -- cliche upon cliche, that hackneyed talk-to-the-camera shtick, it just goes on and on. And yet she thinks she's clever? Helen Lesnick cannot act and looks to be at least 15 years older than her character claims to be. Bad editing. A cheaply done movie and it looks it. Just bad bad bad. Are we sure this movie wasn't made in the early 80s for film school class?

You want a good lesbian movie, go see the Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love. Go Fish. Bound. Just about anything is better than this waste of celluloid, videotape, bits, whatever.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A disappointing failure

Author: abstruse-3 from Australia
10 April 2006

Billed as a top pick of Gay and Lesbian film festivals around the world, this film left me wanting. Helen Lesnick is an OK enough writer, but her direction is a little pedestrian, and her acting chops don't suit the role. I agree that she seems far too old for the part, playing a 34-year-old? Please! She appears at least 43. Also, I was turned off by the sound of her voice, it drove me mad throughout the whole film. Shaffer isn't much better -- but she suffers aesthetically for two reasons, as well: her hair looks like a very bad horsehair wig all the way through, and she has absolutely RIDICULOUS wardrobe. I have seen Shaffer in other roles, though, and she's not as bad in those as she was in this.

There is no chemistry to speak of between Lesnick and Shaffer, and the relationship seems to develop without any substance -- we don't have much of a clue what they see in each other. Five minutes of what Lesnick wants us to think is witty repartee (but isn't) and then a year has passed and they're deeply in love. It's crazy! Perhaps Lesnick is trying to play on lesbian stereotypes (moving in right after meeting), but it seems like little actual thought went into this.

Michele Greene is given very little to work with in her role as the third member of the love triangle. I felt the film would have benefited if it had given us a little more reason to understand why Rachel (Lesnick) was so attracted to Reggie (Greene) in the first place, and had thrown Reggie back into the mix a little sooner. Despite all of this, Greene's performance is the standout in the film.

As it stands, it seems to be an attempt at comedy about the confusion of love and commitment that really has nothing to say about love and commitment at all.

An attempt at humour falls flat when Christine (Shaffer) is confused about the difference between physics and phys ed, and I think it's a bit below the belt -- this film really tries to give the message that west coast Americans are stupid, and east coast Americans are all intellectual, without really ever giving much of an example of either. It's too easy, pitting a massage therapist against a physics professor. Come on, give the audience some credit! The resolution is a total disappointment: it teaches that you can make life-altering decisions on the basis of a pep talk, and that life-long problems can be solved without real examination of their causes. Plural.

Lesnick is well-meaning -- she tries her best, she puts in lots of cynicism and dark-humour, but it just doesn't cut the mustard. Her follow-up work, Inescapable, which I actually saw BEFORE I saw A Family Affair, suffers from major script and direction problems as well, and it doesn't surprise me at all, now, because it appears that Lesnick's range is fairly limited.

This film bored me to tears. Don't see it if you want to watch LBGT films with some substance.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Too Many Distracting Discrepancies

Author: leadsister from United States
4 March 2005

The writing is not altogether that bad--the jokes definitely have their niche and will be entertaining to its intended audience.

Let's just say that, without looking at any of the credits, I could tell that it was one of those movies where the director had cast herself as the lead role. I was not convinced by Helen Lesniak's performance as a romantic lead. She does well with the sarcasm...and that's about it. The fact that she looked to be the same age as her on-screen mother was distracting, frankly.

And it sounds horrible but the whole time I was thinking, "How did she land a babe like Eric Shaffer?"

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A tragedy captured on film

Author: Daddies_Lil_Eff_Up from United States
9 July 2007

I'm actually in the middle of this movie as I type this review. I had to log on to IMDb to see if I was the only person who found this movie to be completely dreadful. At the moment I'm on a marathon of watching all the LGTBQ movies I can find for free on the internet. This is the first one that I found hard to watch. Christine not only isn't believable in her relationship but she doesn't even make a believable blonde. Rachel is definitely not the 34 she claims to be and she DEFINITELY isn't funny. There's a line between funny cynicism and annoying sarcasm and oh man did she cross it. I did enjoy Rachel's mother, I saw a lot of myself in her, even though I'm probably around 40 years younger then her character.

I guess that's all I have to say except... did that mother just proudly proclaim her status as a WASP? Although you may be proud of all the things that entails, that has never been mistaken as a compliment for anyone. Horrifying.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A Family Affair - A Great Effort

Author: mtfairie from United States
15 January 2006

I read about the video in a Wolfe Video brochure. Bought the DVD and am very pleased with the film. I like the way Ms.Lesnick matched up the actors and actresses with the characters. If you are not Jewish (which I am not) there may be a few things that need explaining. The dish of parsley at the beginning of the Sadar for one. Even though she points out her mistakes in her comments and on the bonus video that came with the film, I think she did a tremendous job for a first time effort. I live on 10 acres in the southern tier of NY. Needless to say neighbors are few and far between. My enjoyment comes from viewing a collection of lesbian DVD's I have started. I put A Family Affair in the top 5 of my collection. I watch it often. I think Helen Lesnick is a gifted writer and film maker. I look forward to seeing more of her talents develop on the screen. Keep up the good work.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A Michele Green Triumph

Author: phils_phan from Philadelphia, PA
12 January 2004

This movie felt very amateurish, but that's probably what was intended. Michele Green caught my attention from the get-go and was extremely good as the spurned lover. I had no idea it was Abby Perkins from LA Law until I watched disk 2 on the DVD extras. A very good turn for her. By her own admission she feels boxed in as an actress with casting directors not being able to see her beyond Abby-types. Hopefully that will change. Helen Lesniak was decent, and watch-able, but looked much older than 34 and not young enough to be the daughter of Arlene Golonka, but perhaps Arlene is just extremely young looking! I really enjoyed Arlene's performance and that of Barbara Stuart. Good casting there. I also thought Erica Shaffer was good, but truly, I couldn't see much attraction between her and Helen. They didn't seem compatible at all. I wouldn't recommend this film to everyone, but I did enjoy it. 6/10 stars.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

3.5 stars

Author: Mike Weston (mweston) from Silicon Valley, CA
17 April 2002

Rachel is a Jewish lesbian. Her parents are initially shocked by this revelation (the lesbian part, that is), but have come around so far that they are now leaders of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays). After a long, on again, off again relationship with a woman named Reggie in New York, Rachel moves to southern California and meets Christine.

This romantic comedy stars Helen Lesnick, who also wrote and directed it. Her character breaks the fourth wall frequently, speaking to the camera on and off from the very beginning of the film. While I really enjoyed the film, a couple of minor problems stood out: the actress/writer/director looks much closer to the age of the actress playing her mother than to that of her love interest, and the dialog seemed stilted and occasionally badly overdubbed. I can't help but compare this to "Kissing Jessica Stein," which I saw in Toronto last year but is only now being released in theaters. This film is more real, but is not as inventive or as well delivered, so I would have to give the edge to KJS. Seen at Cinequest (the San Jose, CA film festival) on 3/1/2002.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: VANPACOS from San Diego, CA
10 April 2003

Fabulous movie......I was not expecting it to be so funny and interesting at the same time! Everything in it is really exceptionnal, from the actresses, to the script, to the story, to the directing, to the pictures, to the location (san Diego of course)....etc

Two thumbs up, and Congratulations....Continue the great work!

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