Synopsis: A widower goes on a road trip to reconnect with each of his grown children.
Release Date: December 4, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, Comedy
Family. Such a small word holds great meaning. This film takes the idea of family and examines how the people we think we know, those we love and care for, are not always whom we perceive them to be. As Frank ventures out on his journey to see all of his four children, after they have inadvertently cancelled on him to come and visit, he uncovers an unexpected truth about all of them: he does not know them at all. Just like the pictures he takes with his camera (with real film no less) of his children, the picture Frank has in his mind for them is a mere production. The reality is much different and very much an awakening for a father such as he who has spent his entire life expecting so much, and in turn never knowing the truth. With this comes the reality for Frank and the viewer how the pressures of family resonate in all of us throughout our lives. The solution is acceptance, something Frank discovers along the way providing the viewer with a heartfelt, warm and touching story about family.
This is an exceptionally well written screenplay. There are a multitude of small details that enrich the story so you are always engaged. The characters are wonderfully presented where each individual has a very distinct personality and relationship with their father. This is the backbone of the story and the most important element to make it believable. In only a short time on screen we see how each character feels, thinks, and regards his/her father and also the way they keep secrets from him in order to not disappoint. As well as a wonderful choice to use children in Frank’s moments of thought, or when he sees his children on his journey for the first time, to showcase just how blind he is to the present when it comes to them.
Then there are the telephone lines. These telephone lines, a means of communication, stand for the connection between the family. As Frank travels by train absent from any of his family there is a constant use of voiceover to portray the telephone calls happening between his children. All of which deal with their father and the one secret they must keep from him. This use is of special importance because Frank worked his entire life running telephone cables, the same cables his children are now using to keep him at arms length. It is a very creative way of showing the distance between all of them brought on by Frank himself throughout their lives. Open communication is what he lacks with his children and to be a man who created the means of communication for millions of people makes for a very interesting element in the story. This is not just another family drama, the screenplay makes sure of it.
I could ramble on and on about how everyone does an excellent job with their characters. But I will not. All I will say is it is time to fall in love with Robert De Niro all over again. This time for very different reasons then ever before, and it is a refreshing welcoming change of atmosphere for a very talented actor.
The small nuances of life breathe comedy into this film. Whether you are watching Frank wave his arms in front of his motion detector light or experiencing his interactions with the people he meets along the way on his journey a good natured warm feeling engrosses the viewer. It is a simple sort of humor that makes this movie fun and entertaining to experience. It may not be set up to have laugh out loud laughs but hey, genuine comedy is sooo much better.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Kirk JonesGianni Nunnari
- Producer(s): Massimo De RitaTonino GuerraGiuseppe TornatoreKate Beckinsale (Amy)
- Screenwriter(s): Robert De Niro (Frank)Drew Barrymore (Rosie)Sam Rockwell (Robert)
- Story: Katherine Moennig (Jilly)
- Cast: Andrew MondsheinHenry BrahamAndrew Jackness
- Cinematographer: Dario Marianelli
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s): Intelligent Creatures
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USAItaly