Everybody's Fine (PG)

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The ViewQueenstown Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/02/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Watchable, well made family drama with a strong performance from Robert De Niro, though it's let down by an overly simplistic script and its failure to connect on an emotional level.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Kirk Jones, Everybody's Fine is a remake of Giuseppe Tornatore's 1990 family drama. Robert De Niro stars as widower Frank Goode, who decides to take a road trip to visit his grown-up children when they each call and cancel for a planned family get-together.

Against the advice of his doctor, Frank travels to New York to see artist David (Austin Lysy), but finds he isn't home, so he continues on to Chicago to see advertising executive Amy (Kate Beckinsale), Denver to see musician Robert (Sam Rockwell) and Las Vegas to see dancer Rosie (Drew Barrymore). However, it becomes increasingly clear that none of his children are being entirely honest with him.

The Good
De Niro is excellent, delivering his best performance in quite some time (Stardust's Captain Shakespeare aside) as a man gradually discovering that his only connection to his children was through his wife; in particular, De Niro subtly shades the character so that you can see the stubborn streak and strictness that might have lead his children to lie to him. There's also strong support from Rockwell, Beckinsale and Barrymore, even if their characters aren't as well fleshed out.

In addition, there are some nice moments of humour scattered throughout the film, particularly in Frank's relationship with his grandson (Lucian Maisel), who points out that the suitcase he's been lugging around for days has an extending handle, or his all-too-brief scene with Melissa Leo as a kindly truck-driver who gives him a lift.

The Bad
The main problem is that the script is overly simplistic, spelling everything out for the audience ahead of time, which leaves Frank playing catch-up for the entire film. Similarly, the script layers on the sentimentality with the result that several of the supposedly emotional revelations never quite ring true – it's extremely difficult to believe, for example, that Barrymore's character would keep her particular secret so long, especially given that Rosie is apparently the closest to her father.

Worth seeing?
This is a beautifully shot drama that's worth seeing for the performances, but it never quite delivers the required emotional punch.

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Content updated: 24/02/2018 09:11

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