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“The Family” – Review (POSITIVE)

October 13, 2013

Screen shot 2013-10-13 at 8.46.26 PMApologies on the following late reviews, I’ve been busy these past few weeks, but now I’m playing catch up. So, lets start off with this new Luc Besson feature. Besson returns to the directors chair after his critical American flop of the “Arthur and the Invisible” films, although they’ve been quite popular in the Euro-markets, they didn’t find such love from critics and audiences alike. And it seems as though the same thing has happened here in this ‘fish out of water mafia tale’, starring Robert De Niro.

And honestly, I don’t get the hate, perhaps Americans can’t seem to grasp the European stylings of Besson anymore or they simply believe he doesn’t have ‘it’ anymore, you know that same ‘it’ that gave us “The Professional” and “The Fifth Element”. Quite frankly I enjoyed the hell out of “The Family”, in my opinion it may be the most underrated and overlooked film of 2013.

The Manzoni family, Gio (De Niro), Maggie (Michelle Peiffer), Belle (Dianna Agron), and Warren (John De’Leo), are a well-known, notorious mafia clan, who have been relocated to Normandy, France under the witness protection program. They try to fit into their surroundings, but old habits die hard for the Manzoni’s, or now the Blake’s as they’re going by now.

De Niro pretty much plays a typical mafia-type in this film, and rightfully so, since what Besson is trying to convey is a sort of self-aware satire on the American gangster. The every day, suburbanite European world isn’t necessarily aware nor used to the customs of the American mafia family, and it’s funny how some of the towns people interact with ‘the family’. One of the more memorable parts of the film is when De Niro’s Gio attends an American film screening in town, in his honor, and to his surprise the film is something that truly speaks to him; “Goodfellas”.

The real shine this movie gives off comes from the supporting kids roles, Dianna Agron & John De’Leo’s roles are contrived in the best possible way, they turn their school upside down with criminal negligence (the Warren character) to the sex drive of a woman aching for love and willing to lose herself in it (Belle). The character of Belle is probably the strongest one of the bunch, there’s a moment in the film that defines her power and earns her the respect and admiration of the audience.

While the movie does follow typical cliches of the genre, and perhaps runs a tad too long, I don’t think it deserves the critical bashing it received early last month in September. If anything it could be a movie that will grow on critics and viewers alike over time.

Grade: B

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