The enduring friendship between the Walling and Ostroff families is tested when Nina, the prodigal Ostroff daughter, returns home for the holidays after a five-year absence and enters into an affair with David, head of the Walling family.
In conservative West Orange, New Jersey, the Ostroff and Walling families are very close. David Walling and Terry Ostroff are inseparable best friends and run together everyday. David has problems with his wife, Paige. He frequently sleeps alone in his office. Their daughter, Vanessa, is frustrated because she has not succeeded in her career as a designer. Their son, Toby, is moving to China on a temporary assignment. Terry's wife, Cathy, ignores him. Their daughter Nina moved to San Francisco five years ago. Near Thanksgiving, Nina's boyfriend Ethan betrays her at his birthday party and Nina returns to her parents house. Nina argues with her mother and draws closer to David. Soon they have an affair and fall in love, turning the lives of the people close to them upside-down. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Oranges gives the viewer a light hearted look at what is traditionally considered very taboo. A middle aged man whose daughter still lives at home falls in love with his best friends daughter, who happens to be the same age as his daughter. Factor in that he is still married, and she as of last week was engaged, and all the makings of a dark depressing midlife crisis come to a head in tragic and heartbreaking ways in what could only be an indie drama... Except that it isn't a drama, it is a lighthearted family comedy.
Such taboo subjects, under a different light with different music, could easily have found itself in contention for being quite the drama, but alas, the whole film is flipped upside down with a plot that feels so unauthentic and ridiculous that I often had to stop myself and say "no way his friend would be feeling okay with this." It felt like these families were alien, living in a different soda-pop world than the one I have seen of the suburbs. If this didn't make me cringe enough, the music would pop in and make me feel like for some reason I'm supposed to be okay with throwing your wife away for a newer model.
However, oddly enough, at the end of the day the complete and total disregard for all things righteous actually won me over. I won't by any means label this as anything worthwhile to filmmaking, which it wasn't, but the absurdness of all of this (especially the music) piling up somehow worked, and the film mainly works because the acting really makes the ridiculous believable. Catherine Keener gives an awesome performance, as well as Oliver Platt, who sells the most unrealistic character ever devised like he is more real than Shakespeare (yes Shakespeare is real.)
This film at several moments felt like by all means it should fail miserably, but thanks to the talent involved, it manages to be saved. One can tell that the screenplay just wasn't very good, but at the end of the day, somehow this film works. It is far from a great film, by any means, but it works. 7 out of 10.
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