Verdict: A little drama, a little farce, a little humour, an easy film to enjoy and forget
One of the refreshing things about this light family drama is its novel setting, the Bronx enclave of City Island on the outskirts of New York.
As interesting as the characters who live there, this quaint fishing village provides a point of difference for City Island, a smart and fun story about a fiery, dysfunctional Italian American family.
Those who have lived on City Island for generations are known as "clam diggers", and those who have more recently discovered the delights of this seaside neighbourhood are known as "mussel suckers." The Rizzo family are clam diggers, and proud of it.
What they are not so proud of are their undisclosed aspirations and past mistakes. This is a family with a lot of secrets and its patriarch, the earnest Vince (Garcia), has the most to hide.
A corrections officer with dreams of becoming an actor, Vince prefers his wife Joyce (Margulies) suspect his poker nights are a cover for an affair rather than confess he's sneaking off to acting classes in Manhattan. To add to the marital discord, Vince brings home his secret long-lost son Tony (Steven Strait), a good looking ex-con, to work in the garden.
There's plenty of attitude in these characters, in a loud, passionate Italian kind of way, and lots of sharp and humorous quips, the pick of which go to Ezra Miller (Californication) as Vince Jr. A skinny wise-ass with a sexual obsession for overweight women, he loves to taunt his sulky older sister Vivian (Garcia's daughter Dominik Garcia-Lorido) who has her own dirty secret to hide. The fun is in how all these secrets are revealed.
It might sound very complicated and over the top, and at times City Island does struggle to juggle its farcical elements with its more dramatic ones.
The Rizzos though are just ordinary dysfunctional folk, and there's a laid-back approach to this film which goes some way to making all these convoluted lies and inevitable misunderstandings almost feasible.
It's an easy watch, a charming, generally light-hearted film with a nice dose of humour, but you can't shake the feeling that this story would have made a brilliant TV series rather than a feature film.
Cast: Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies
Director: Raymond De Felitta
Running time: 104 mins
Rating: M (Contains offensive language)