In the Family [Blu-ray]
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Review "I was completely absorbed from beginning to end. What a courageous first feature this is, a film that sidesteps shopworn stereotypes and tells a quiet, firm, deeply humanist story about doing the right thing. It is a film that avoids any message or statement and simply shows us, with infinite sympathy, how the life of a completely original character can help us lead our own." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times "A signature achievement…deliberate and marked by uncommon grace, IN THE FAMILY manages to feel politically and culturally acute without ever resorting to melodrama, or having to wave banners for issues or causes, except perhaps in its quiet way for a renewed humanism in movies and a return to stories about everyday lives." --Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times "A remarkably fresh and unpredictable drama. Beautifully modulated and stylistically sui generis, IN THE FAMILY is also one of the most accomplished and undersold directorial debuts this year. One senses that [Wang] is rediscovering the rules of cinema on his own. This is a career to keep an eye on." --Paul Brunick, New York Times Product Description In a heartfelt story woven around child custody, two-Dad families, loss, interracial relations, the American South, and the human side of the law, the nature of what it means to be in a family is explored with ambitious and rewarding nuance. SPECIAL FEATURES: Simple Expressions of Absolute Values, video essay by Kevin B. Lee | The Mirror to Nature, video essay by H.P. Mendoza | A Tour of the Cutting Room Floor and Sculpting a Scene, video essays by Patrick Wang | Behind the Scenes video | Theatrical trailer | On the feature: Subtitles for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing | Optional 5.1 audio | Booklet: Essays by Godfrey Cheshire, Michael Guillén, Dave Boyle and Brian Hu
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Patrick Wang's direction is thoughtful, well-considered, and a pleasant change from traditional Hollywood film making. Scenes in which the action is happening off-camera carry more impact than had the action been filmed.
The film's subject matter -- same-sex families, two dads, fighting relatives over child custody, death, loss, homophobia, race, love -- could have easily turned this film into a maudlin mess were it not for Wang's skillful screenwriting, directing, and acting. The film also skillfully avoids being overtly political despite the subject matter. I'm writing my own first screenplay and I've learned a lot just from repeatedly watching this film.
I know it sounds like hyperbole, but this is seriously the best film I've seen in years.
Many Asian-American actors would say they hate doing accents because they are connected with stereotypical roles, but Patrick Wang's southern accent probably wasn't what Asian-American actors had in mind and in this case it is a testament to Patrick's incredible acting abilities. I am one who thinks directors should direct and not also take on the demand of acting in their own films because both can suffer, but Patrick Wang's acting and directing are both amazing. He has embraced this film heart and soul and it's evident in its emotional complexity and perhaps this is a case where it could not have been as successful without Patrick in both roles.
In the film the downward spiral starts with the confrontation between Joey (Patrick Wang) and Chad's sister over the will and is a riveting scene that doesn't leave the viewer rooting for anyone, but actually feeling the pain and the point each is making about the circumstances. But for Joey it is the most devastating because everything in his life is gone overnight; his partner, his child, and his home. The loneliness and destruction of his life is powerfully and beautifully created by Patrick's acting and directing making this a heart wrenching film that shouldn't be missed. And the film's conclusion? Emotionally brilliant.
Patrick Wang is not only a masterful actor and writer but also the best kind of director who chooses exactly the right actor for every part and brings out of those actors the depth of character with a minimum of movement and expression. Wang's work with the cinematographer puts not only every scene at the edge of the frame, but also the nerves of the audience who learn what it is and what it means to be literally "on edge", to be outside or as nearly outside of the community as a body can get.
Yet there are no villains here: all the characters are rich and motivated by only the best motivations; that is what makes the conflict so gripping and so human.
In so many reviews of this extraordinary film there are nods to the length of the movie as if it might be considered a detriment, but the length and slowness are immediately recognizably integral to the film, the fullness and emptiness of the same moment in time, the hugeness of the emotion yet the tiny pinpricks of all of the hurts and poignancies within that emotion, brilliant and excruciating and dear.
I have ordered six copies to give to my best friends since they were unable to see the movie in the movie theater. I think anyone who sees this movie will want to do the same because it is not only unique, not only profound to the deepest part of one's psyche and love, but utterly fulfilling.
Joey and Cody have raised their son, Chip, for at least 5 years together. Normal, every-day routines of two loving parents and one lucky child begin the film. Then, suddenly, Cody dies. Joey and Chip are left behind, numb, grieving and being pulled back into the every-day. Life seems to go on.
Until Joey is informed of Cody's will. It states that Chip, along with all of Cody's possessions, belongs to Cody's sister and husband. Joey is quickly pushed out of the picture and left without any legal custody of his son. Thus begins a slow, powerful journey of understanding, love, and family.
In The Family is 169 minutes long. It is drawn out, subtle, and realistic. There isn't any background music. Many scenes don't include dialogue. It is simply a window into the life of these characters. It lets us see them for who they are, watch them eat, talk, and try to understand the bumps of life and their bruises from them. It is an art film, an indie film, and a quietly powerful experience, one which benefits from more than one viewing. Film: 4/5 STARS
The video quality is nearly perfect. The material is presented neatly. None of this film is flashy, but rather subdued and realistic. This style of film looks good on Blu-ray. Video: 5/5 STARS
Audio is good. The film is filled with conversations and real-life sounds. Dialogue is easy enough to hear. Audio: 4/5 STARS
Extras include video essays and written essays that are especially interesting. The Blu-ray case fits the mood of the film, with a booklet inside and a sturdy enough slipcover. Extras: 3.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5 STARS. A powerful, realistic film. Highly recommended!
Rating: Not Rated.
My Rating: PG-13 for Thematic Material and Brief Language.
Ages 13 and up.
"In the Family" is not about the knee-jerk morality questions our society regularly pontificates on the surfaces of right and wrong. Rather, it is about multiple layers of meaning behind such words as truth, innocence, justice, empathy, compassion, family, and love as they actually play out in the real, down-to-earth lives that we live together as a human family. This film is no less than an indie-masterpiece.