This was the original "Real World". The show was a weekly documentary which followed the real life travails of the Loud family, a mixed up cluster of suburbanites. The show picked up lots ... See full summary »
This is a documentary about direct-cinema from its very beginnings (Nanook of the North) to the fake-direct-cinema of the Blair Witch Project. All the important direct-cinema filmmakers are... See full summary »
Craig Gilbert, portrayed here by Gandolfini, James, was the award-winning documentary filmmaker who created and produced the original "American Family" series on PBS. After the controversy about the iconic series, it proved to be his final film credit. See more »
The Louds' Mercedes has a California plate with the number style 1AAA000. These plates did not appear until 1980. See more »
In 1971 an all American family from Santa Barbara in California were chosen, seemingly at random, to take part in a TV experiment. It was to become the world's first reality TV show called "An American Family" and its stars, the Loud family both by name and at times by nature, were to become national phenomena.
But to get to legendary status the show's producer, Craig Gilbert, had a pretty hard sell to the board of TV company PBS who were reluctant, to say the least, to commit to the show and began to baulk at the cost of production as the film stock costs (in particular) began to mount.
Their concern was about the "view-ability" of the show and whether it would find an audience. They needn't have worried because what gradually emerged was a tale of a swinging misogynist father (Tim Robbins), a hopeless and helpless (but sultry in Gilbert's opinion) Mom played brilliantly by Diane Lane and a screamingly gay son, Lance, played gleefully by Thomas Dekker. Not to mention a looky-likey Rolling Stones band fronted by the other two boys.
But it's what's going on in the mind of Producer Gilbert (played masterfully by James Gandolfini with a very unlikely full beard and absolutely no gangster element whatsoever to draw on) that is the meat of the movie. Well, I say a movie but it's actually a documentary set within a drama, about a reality TV documentary that turns out larger than life than any drama.
At points we see side by side comparisons between the "real" family and the 2011 actors. It's uncanny. Gandolfini manipulates all sides as he makes the "action" more and more interesting but in doing so contributes to the family meltdown and the confidence of his crew. It's terrific.
I don't think this ever made it to cinema, it's an HBO production, but it's great and I saw it last night on Sky Atlantic so is likely to be repeated at some time. If it is tune in because it's a little gem.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?