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Everybody’s Fine, 2010 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on February 17, 2010

Director: Kirk Jones
Starring: Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell

This review by Ashleigh Walmsley

Based on the 90’s Italian drama ‘Stanno tutti bene’, writer-director Kirk Jones brings ‘Everybody’s Fine’ to the big screen, showing that De Niro is undeniably back – and in my opinion, on top form.

The story follows Robert De Niro’s character Frank, a recently widowed pensioner who, unbeknownst to him, has become distant with his four children – three of which are played by Hollywood hot-shots Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell. To connect these broken bonds, Frank decides to travel across America – disregarding his illness – to surprise each of his grown children and hopefully bring them back for a classic family Christmas. To his surprise, Frank’s children aren’t as ‘perfect’ as he always had hoped and expected.

The story of a disconnected parent(s) has been done many times before, and sometimes arguably better, but nobody can disagree that Jones’ writing is without wit or heart. Following De Niro’s character around America – something in which Frank has never done, thus giving him a somewhat child-like sense of adventure, is both entertaining and touching. Jones successfully emphasises this vulnerable character due to the situations we find him in and, overall, the truths we uncover about his children and their mysterious lives. And of course, De Niro himself helps bring this character to life. His performance is nothing short of terrific. He truly makes Frank incredibly easy to relate to and to feel sympathy for, which, therefore, makes it much easier to enjoy the chemistry he has between his on-screen children – Drew Barrymore, mainly.

Although their appearances are short, and have little script to work with, Barrymore, Beckinsale and Rockwell all bring something to their characters. A certain charisma which makes each one as likable as the next, which fits perfectly with De Niro. You could argue that Jones didn’t expand the relationship enough between Frank and his children, but the feeling of disconnection had to be felt even with the audience.
Although ‘Everybody’s Fine’ is written with care and passion, I can’t help but feel cheated with it’s predictably melodramatic finale. Too many films of it’s kind have ended leaving you feeling nostalgic and overly depressed. However, it did stay with me long after the credits began to roll.

In conclusion, ‘Everybody’s Fine’ left me pleasantly surprised. It’s definitely not perfect – the dream sequence towards to end of the feature became tedious instantly -, but Jones has written something so beautifully told and superbly acted that it’s hard not to like. Some may call it cliché and overly sensitive, I call it a touching and powerful dram-edy. Made completely worthwhile by the genuine performances and surprisingly stunning cinematography, ‘Everybody’s Fine’ is a film I can definitely recommend.

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