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In the Family (2011)
A unique and moving experience
This film is certainly not for everyone, at almost 3 hours length, with minimal soundtrack and mostly static shots. But I sat riveted until the end, as did most of the audience in the theater.
The plot sounds melodramatic: a gay Asian man fights for the custody of the son he shared with his deceased lover. But writer/director Patrick Wang, who seems clearly influenced by the understated Yasujiro Ozu and Ang Lee, avoids the easy moral conflicts. Instead, he focuses on the daily lives of mostly average and good hearted people. There are no stereotype villains here. Instead of a Hollywood court battle, we have an almost documentary like deposition meeting that still manages to be dramatic and emotionally true.
The cast is uniformly terrific, especially young Sebastian Banes as Chip and Brian Murray as the lawyer. Certain quietly powerful scenes still stay with me, like the kitchen scene post-funeral and Chip replaying the audiotape of his father's voice calling his name. Patrick Wang will be a talent to follow!