Movie Review: City Island
by Nate Orians
Jul 21, 2010 | 16506 views | 0 0 comments | 714 714 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“City Island,” a comedy about an Italian family that traces its roots back several generations, takes place on City Island in the Bronx. The writing is decent enough and the occasional daring plot twists keep us engaged, but the film has serious problems that don't lie within the story or with the leading actor.

Leading man Andy Garcia delivers. Had writer/director Raymond De Felitta focused his film on further developing Garcia’s charismatic character, the film would have been more successful. The problem is that Garcia just doesn’t have the right supporting cast; his three children in the film go from bad to worse.

The oldest, played by Steven Strait, is good at looking into the camera in a way that suggests frustration, but this may be his only emotive talent. The performance of Dominik García-Lorido, Garcia’s on-screen and real-life daughter, makes a strong case for doing away with nepotism when casting.

And the youngest son, played by Ezra Miller, should have been written out from the start. He cannot be blamed for acting unconvincingly in a part that should not have existed.

However, the performance of all three actors blows Emily Mortimer out of the water. Every time Mortimer comes on screen, the best one can hope for is that she will deliver her lines quickly and then recede into the background before you fall asleep.

“City Island” has been circulating through film festivals for a year now, and won the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. But beyond that one honor, the film has been largely met with silence.

De Felitta uses his sarcastic narrative voice to keep viewers engaged through each individual scene, but his failure to cast actors who can convey a deeper story makes this movie worth watching only if you are bored and have nothing else important to do. He should have found better talent to pull his viewers through the entire 104-minute film.
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