"City Island" is a charming and VERY engaging film.
It is also a well-told story that has something simple and worthwhile to say. That’s a pretty good start for a movie.
City Island is also the vehicle for some terrific performances. Andy Garcia is spectacularly good. His range is terrific, his trust exceptional, his playfulness is exciting and his ‘surprises’ are something to behold. As a simple display of skill, this performance is worth seeing.
This is a story about relationships so the success of the film hangs completely on the interactive nature of the performances. Everyone is excellent. All the actors are engaged in 'conversation outcomes' in this film. There is no ‘line crafting’ or ‘word crafting’ and no one is trying to be interesting - all these actors are focused squarely on dealing with the difficulties that confront their characters. And there are lots of difficulties for them to wrestle. But despite the level of difficulty (in fact, because of it) this is a very funny movie.
OPPOSITE: STEVEN STRAIT; DOMINIK GARCIA-LORIDO; ANDY GARCIA; JULLIANNA MARGULIES; EZRA MILLER
A Lesson in How to Entertain
This is a film that makes it absolutely plain that entertaining stories are not about actors trying to be funny. It is the quirky nature of the difficulties that they face that generates the humour and the writer has already provided these ingredients. All the actor has to do is confront the difficulties. Of course, the more difficult these moments are for the character the harder it is for them to make the next decision and the harder they try to make that decision the more the audience laughs. Comedy is significantly about an actor’s ability to play surprises.
|LEFT: ALAN ARKIN
||LEFT: EMILY MORTIMER & ANDY GARCIA
There is no clear story difference between a comedy and a drama. All stories have one consistent ingredient that keeps them active and engaging. That ingredient is the ‘difficulties’ the character’s face. The difference between comedy and drama is merely the nature of the difficulty and mostly that is the writer’s territory. If the difficulties make us smile it’s a comedy and if they make us cry it’s a drama. The actor’s job is always to confront the difficulties and that’s why the ability to confidently play surprises is one of the actor’s most important skills. City Island is a story that’s full of surprises.
If you are interested in performance skill – go and see this film – ANDY GARCIA is fabulous.
If you want to be entertained – go and see this film – it will definitely do that job for you.
If you are interested in the business of acting - go and see this film - there is a great subplot about acting. ALAN ARKIN gives a delightful cameo as an acting teacher and there’s a lovely audition scene.
"City Island" is highly recommended viewing.
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