When his partner Cody dies in a car accident, Joey learns that their son, Chip, has been willed to Cody's sister. In his now solitary home life, Joey searches for a solution. The law is not on his side, but friends are.
In the town of Martin, Tennessee, Chip Hines, a precocious six year old, has only known life with his two dads, Cody and Joey. And a good life it is. When Cody dies suddenly in a car accident, Joey and Chip struggle to find their footing again. Just as they begin to, Cody's will reveals that he named his sister as Chip's guardian. The years of Joey's acceptance into the family unravel as Chip is taken away from him. In his now solitary home life, Joey searches for a solution. The law is not on his side, but friends are. Armed with their comfort and inspired by memories of Cody, Joey finds a path to peace with the family and becomes closer to his son.Written by
NOW before I go any further, I will say this: maybe it's not everybody's kind of film. It is long (3 hours) and VERY slow. It's a bit of a gay film, although homosexuality doesn't seem to be an issue. Two guys are in a relationship, one of them (Cody, very, very cute!) has a son. They raise him together. The son is played by 6 y.o. Sebastian Banes, who is terrific. Anyway Cody dies, and according to his will made years ago, his sister is supposed to take care of the kid. The other guy wants to keep him. It is a journey through that.
The camera is usually still, and the scenes are more often than not, single shots (long takes? Well "plan séquence" in French, look it up): no cuts, no interruptions, for 3 or 4 minutes, one is 9 minutes! (one with the kid lasts 2 or 3 minutes, and he performs it to perfection.)
Of course it is hard to do, because everything has to be flawless for the whole sequence. But it gives the impression of "real life".
I would describe "In The Family" as "adult": by that I mean that eventually we don't even follow a plot; we follow characters through a slice of life. No spectacular images, no special effects, and no witty dialogue (God knows that this has been in very short supply for the last 20 years!): it is about people, being human, feeling.
I like Roger Ebert's review:
"In the Family" is a long film, and truth to tell, could have been made shorter. (One dimly lit confrontation between Joey and a key participant seems unnecessary.) That said, I was completely absorbed from beginning to end. What a courageous first feature this is, a film that sidesteps shopworn stereotypes and tells a quiet, firm, deeply humanist story about doing the right thing. It is a film that avoids any message or statement and simply shows us, with infinite sympathy, how the life of a completely original character can help us lead our own.
Bottom line, be warned: it is long, it is slow, it is "day to day" regular life, there is nothing "out of this world" about it... and it is wonderful. (96% on Rotten Tomatoes, so don't be fooled by the meager 7,3 on IMDb ). Patrick Wang has given us a wonderful film, dare I say a masterpiece? And it deserves to be seen.
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