review - According to City Island's harassed hero Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia), the small islet where Raymond De Felitta’s winning comedy is set is one of New York’s best-kept secrets.
A quaint fishing community, its 5,000 residents are divided between traditional natives (“clam diggers”) and interlopers (disdainfully dubbed “mussel suckers”). It’s a place out of time, within sight of Manhattan yet a world apart from its bustle.
Like an Odyssean siren, though, those concrete canyons call to Vince, a prison guard who shamefully hides his dream of becoming an actor from fiery spouse Joyce (Julianna Margulies). That’s not all he’s concealing either. He also has a black sheep son called Tony (Steven Strait), a newly paroled ex-con Vince invites to stay while masking his true provenance.
Vince’s daughter, meanwhile (played by Garcia’s own daughter Dominik Garcia-Lorido) clandestinely moonlights as a stripper. Then there’s her brother Vince Jr. (Ezra Miller), a closet chubbychaser with a thing for his gargantuan neighbour.
All these skeletons inevitably come to light in a neat last reel, though not before Vince – encouraged by acting partner Molly (Emily Mortimer) – has hilariously auditioned for a Martin Scorsese film and Eric Bana-alike Strait has rebuffed advances from Margulies.
Effectively, City is Secrets And Lies with a Noo Yawk accent. But for every unlikely revelation, there is a nugget of truth that steers De Felitta’s film around its occasionally strained plotting into dramatically satisfying waters.
Garcia is terrific as the Brando-obsessed Vince, while Margulies – so good in TV’s The Good Wife – has fun blowing her top as his nagging partner. If there is a weak link here it’s Mortimer, saddled with a secret that makes us turn against her quicker than it takes the Rizzos to start yelling at each other around the dinner table.
A great cast and some very funny moments – Garcia’s Marlon impression! – make City unexpectedly undearing.
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