Dec 30, 2010

Everybody's fine, 2009

Everybody's fine, 2009
Director: Kirk Jones
Cast: Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell

Stage: Home theatre

Everybody's fine in short:Frank Goode lives by himself in Elmira, NY, a recent widower with heart trouble, retired from a factory job, proud of having pushed his adult children toward success. In the summer, all four kids bail on a reunion, so, against doctor's orders, Frank decides to surprise each with a visit. He sets out to see his artist son in New York City, his daughter the ad exec in Chicago, his son the conductor on tour and presently in Denver, and his daughter who's a performer in Vegas. None are as he imagines or hopes. Will they let him see themselves as they are, and can this dad adapt?

Preps: I only know De Niro being a lead cast in this and it's enough for me. As I admire the man, I am sure he doesn't underestimate a movie script and I should be satisfied.

Reality: Well, probably I expect too much of De Niro anyway. It seems that every now and then he goes with the family comedy flow (Fockers, Analyze that, etc), and sometimes it works - sometimes the fall is deep. The comedy part is absolutely brilliant. De Niro has this tremendous grime on his face that I am really nuts about. Therefore it's funny either way you put it. But there's a slight distinction between an amusing comedy and a true intelligent comedy he sometimes performs so brilliantly.

Now, for this piece. A romantic/family comedy/drama - you can find elements of all the stated in this one. He is desperate for kids abandoning him and not really caring about him (the funny side would be in movies that market something completely else - the situation, where the children don't want to leave home and are attached to their parents all the way through life). Here you have five grown ups, that lead their lives, and only after the wife is dead, he decides to take some sort of a roadtrip to prove the point. Everything's fine up to here. Everybody seems fine and even though they don't like the surprise, his soul is somehow satisfied to see them. Underflowing, a story where everything isn't peas and carrots and everything's not fine. The search for the drug addicted brother, the charade the elder daughter plays with her former husband and a rageous son, the dancer in Las Vegas, pretending to be in her own appartment to show daddy some independence and afterwards, proving that it isn't so pink as it sounds (her life)... All sorts of not so trivial understories are circling around the main roadtrip one.

Conclusion won't satisfy those that look for an answer. Do you need to stay in touch with your family or is it just something that is a part of your childhood and after that you are supposed to live independently, regardless of the roots? In some cultures, this is virtually impossible, as the people are brought up to take care after their relatives as long as they live. And in other cultures, like european or american, it seems pretty much normal to lead your own life and to move out as soon as you can. The big distance, however, is only the psychological divide. You can be neighbours and be even more distant. Does De Niro get his satisfaction? I doubt it, as the movie shows deep remorsement about his behaviour when the children were young that lead to the status quo. Will he repay his debt afterwards? Doubtful again, as the children are distant and even the death of the brother doesn't really bring them closer, only more honest.

My personal rating: 6,0 (a good reminder of the virtues you tend to forget in the everyday life)

Everybody's fine on IMDB

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