Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Movie Review: Everybody's Fine

Everybody’s Fine **
Directed By:
Kirk Jones.
Written By: Kirk Jones based on the movie written by Massimo De Rita & Tonino Guerra & Giuseppe Tornatore.
Starring: Robert De Niro (Frank Goode), Drew Barrymore (Rosie), Kate Beckinsale (Amy), Sam Rockwell (Robert), Lucian Maisel (Jack), Damian Young (Jeff), James Frain (Tom), Melissa Leo (Colleen), Katherine Moennig (Jilly), James Murtaugh (Dr. Ed).

Everyone is not fine in Everybody’s Fine. Frank (Robert DeNiro) has lung problems, and is dealing with the death of his beloved wife 8 months prior to the start of the movie. He was looking forward to his four children coming to spend the weekend with him, but they all cancelled on him at the last minute. So he decides to board train after train, bus after bus and visit all four of his children. Each visit holds a surprise for him.

His artist son in New York, David, is not at his apartment. We gather from phone calls between the other siblings that he may have been arrested in Mexico on drug charges, but they aren’t telling Frank about it. Eventually he just leaves a note and heads off to Chicago to visit Amy (Kate Beckinsale) an ad executive with a husband (Damian Young) and son on the verge of his teenage years (Lucian Maisel). They don’t have time to visit him really, and he senses a tension in the house, although he is told that they are fine. After one night, he heads off to Denver to see his son Robert (Sam Rockwell) who Frank thinks is conducting an orchestra, but who is really just playing the drums. Again, he is put off by Robert, so he heads to Vegas to see Rosie (Drew Barrymore), a dancer. Something is strange about her living arrangements – as she lives in a huge apartment, and when her “friend” Jilly (Katherine Moenning stops by carrying a baby, things get awkward.

Everybody’s Fine is a remake of a highly regard Italian film of the same name directed by Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso) and starring Marcello Mastroinni. I never saw that film (I don’t think it exists on DVD), but this film never really comes together. Due to the nature of the film, it is more a series of vignettes than a fully formed film. The film works very hard to play everything close to the vest, not really wanting to reveal the secret of the movie, either what is really going on with David, or just how hard Frank was on his kids when they were growing up. At each stop, more and more stuff comes up, but Frank never really confronts his kids on any of it. They all seem to think that they need to protect Frank from all the bad stuff in their lives. He simply drifts from one stop to the next.

DeNiro does a fine job as Frank, our one source of consistency in the movie. He keeps the movie grounded. But because he is so kind of quiet, and doesn’t want confrontation, he isn’t the most dramatic of characters. His kids all lie constantly, so the real drama in the movie is left unstated until right near the end of the film. The result is a film that feels rather lazy and lackadaisical. It is hard to get truly involved with the film as while everything is bubbling under the surface, it never really comes to a head. It remains there.

The performances are fine – at least given the material the actors had to work with. It is the writing and directing by Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine) that undoes the film. The whole film just kind of sits there on screen, and we wait for the movie to start, which it never really does. It isn’t a horrible film by any means, but it never really comes together like we expect it to.

1 comment:

  1. Katherine Moennig And Robert De Niro The Best !