Andy Garcia has always struck me as the type of actor who could be in a lot more films than he is. Perhaps acting is a labour of love for him, and he only does a film to pay the bills (such as the Oceans films) every now and again. In this case, it’s clear that City Island is a labour of love, a film he produces and stars in.
City Island is about the Rizzos, a family in which everyone has a secret. Vince and Joyce, married for many years now, are both smoking in secret. They believe their daughter, Vivian, is at college though she hasn’t taken a class in months. Then there’s the fact that Vince has just come across the son he abandoned decades ago but is too ashamed to tell the rest of the family about. There’s much more going on but I don’t want to spoil too much.
We all know where a film like this is heading, and since we are privy to all the secrets from the beginning, the scenes where they are revealed were always going to be a bit of a drag. The real charm comes from the performances. Garcia excels himself as a prison guard who has aspirations of acting (seeing a good actor pretend to be a bad actor is always fun) and you can’t help but feel for the guy. Emily Mortimer (recently seen in Harry Brown) is a fellow aspiring actress whose task is basically to light up the screen and encourage Vince to really excel himself, something she does well. The rest of the Rizzo family are great and Alan Arkin pops up, possibly proving that he is the current go-to guy for feel-good family comedies.
I was fascinated to learn about the locality itself. City Island is part of the Bronx, but obviously nothing like the Bronx we usually see on the big screen. A small fishing village filled with proud families that have lived there for generations, we sadly don’t get to see any of the other townsfolk, so can only glean the sense of community hinted at in awful voiceovers.
Yes, this film does feature an unnecessary top and tail voiceover, and it really is a pity. For the most part, this is an entertaining comedy that doesn’t push any boundaries but certainly showcases some decent talent. Its rather generic tone is unlikely to do the business that (the overrated) Little Miss Sunshine did, but it certainly ticks all the boxes.Rating: