7.4/10
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103 user 145 critic

City Island (2009)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama | 30 April 2010 (USA)
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ON DISC
The Rizzos, a family who doesn't share their habits, aspirations, and careers with one another, find their delicate web of lies disturbed by the arrival of a young ex-con (Strait) brought ... See full summary »

Director:

Raymond De Felitta
3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Andy Garcia ... Vince Rizzo
Julianna Margulies ... Joyce Rizzo
Steven Strait ... Tony
Emily Mortimer ... Molly
Ezra Miller ... Vince Jr.
Dominik García-Lorido ... Vivian Rizzo
Carrie Baker Reynolds ... Denise
Hope Glendon-Ross Hope Glendon-Ross ... Cheryl
Alan Arkin ... Michael Malakov
Louis Mustillo ... Bruno
Jee Young Han ... Casting Assistant
Sarah Saltzberg Sarah Saltzberg ... Casting Director
Curtiss Cook ... Matt Cruniff
Sharon Angela ... Tanya
Marianne Ebert Marianne Ebert ... Ezmalia (as Marianni Ebert)
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Storyline

The Rizzos, a family who doesn't share their habits, aspirations, and careers with one another, find their delicate web of lies disturbed by the arrival of a young ex-con (Strait) brought home by Vince (Garcia), the patriarch of the family, who is a corrections officer in real life, and a hopeful actor in private. Written by IMDb Editors

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Truth is stranger than family

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content, smoking and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 April 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Asuntos de familia See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$32,001, 21 March 2010, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$6,670,712, 29 August 2010
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michelle Pfeiffer was the first offered the female lead. She and Andy Garcia had worked together before and it was hoped that Pfeiffer's participation would be enough to secure much needed financing and distribution. According to Pfeiffer's agent, the actress liked the script, but was reading other projects at the time and after a few weeks passed. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Vinnie and Molly are confronted by Joyce, a picture on the wall as she is on the stairs keeps moving. See more »

Quotes

Joyce Rizzo: [lighting cigarette] My husband thinks I quit.
Tony: One good thing about the joint, they don't let you smoke anymore so... I quit inside.
Joyce Rizzo: Being in prison and not being able to smoke? That's like being in jail. Join me.
Tony: All right.
See more »

Connections

References The Men (1950) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The best kept secret of the year
24 August 2010 | by Simon_Says_MoviesSee all my reviews

Like a number of smaller films this year such as The Kids are All Right, Please Give, Winter's Bone and the first two films of the Millennium Trilogy, City Island is one of this years sleeper indie hits and it is easy to see why. Out on DVD today, it is one of the best movies of the year.

In many ways, City Island is a traditional dysfunctional family melodrama, and it revels in that mold. What elevates this dark comedy to something compelling and infinitely memorable are the universally strong performances, confident direction and most importantly -- one of the best scripts in years. Oddly, I found the same response to a very different film; Frost/Nixon. Boasting the same underlying strengths by way of actors and writing, both are perplexingly entertaining for movies with such a humble story arc and could easily be dismissed as pompous Oscar bait. This is far from the truth.

By way of an introductory voice-over narration we meet the Rizzo family who reside on City Island, a tiny island community in the Bronx. The residents of this picturesque hidden jewel consist of two groups, "mussel suckers" who are immigrants to the island and "clam diggers," who like the Rizzos, have resided there for generations. Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia) is a prison guard but secretly aspires to become an actor, a masquerade so embarrassing to him it leads his wife Joyce (Julianna Margulies) to believe he is having an affair. Their son Vince Jr. has a secret fetish for more portly woman and their daughter Vivian is secretly working as a stripper to pay for school. To top things off, Vince has come across a paroled prisoner who just so happens to be his son Tony who he had abandoned during a relationship decades prior.

Basing your opinion on that description alone, it would be very easy to dismiss City Island as an outlandish comedy of errors, but the execution is so genuine and deliberate it borders on genius. As tensions escalate after Vince brings Tony home with him (under false pretences) everyone's secrets collide in a climax that ranks among my favorite finales of all time, drama, comedy, horror film or otherwise. As the writing behind the big finish shines through, so does the believable mix of fluctuating emotions exhibited by the cast. Words do not do this scene justice, so I urge you to simply experience it yourself.

Each principle member of the cast gives what I would call career-high performances, especially Andy Garcia who anchors the story as everything dissolves around him. He is hilariously deadpan at one moment and tender at the next, which sets off Margulies' fiery Joyce to even more palatable effect. Steven Straight as Vice's long-lost son is perfectly nuanced as an ex-con who is as puzzled by his new lodgings and the kindness of a supposed stranger as he is disenchanted with society. Emily Mortimer gets a great side role as a colleague of Vince's in his secret acting class; a relationship that stays refreshingly plutonic.

Every member of the Rizzo family is given enough screen time to become fully realized individuals but without taking so much attention away from another to degrade them to a caricature. Vince Jr. is sarcastic and annoying most of the time and in a lesser film he would have been overused and could have easily sunk the film. But writer/director Raymond De Felitta plays to each characters strengths and balances their interplay faultlessly.

Above all else, City Island is a film about secrets and how when kept bottled up can shred even the strongest of relationships but when shared can be a uniting factor. This theme seems fitting as this little treasure is the best kept secret of the year.


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