Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Everybody's Fine

For me the film of the week was Everybody’s Fine, the 2009 remake of an Italian film which I would now like to experience as it features that great Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni Everybody’s Fie covers an important subject, the relationship most parents, and in particular, father’s have with their children.

Robert De Nero is retired and a recent widower lives on his own with a comfortable middle class existence in the former family home, He believes all his children lead successful lives, in part seeing them as he wishes to see them, in part from information relayed and filtered by his wife when she was alive and maintained direct contact with her children. He has arranged for a weekend for them to be all together but when one by one they cancel he decides to surprise them by travelling across the United States, against the advice of his General Practitioner because of an ongoing heart condition.

His first visit is to New York to see one of his sons who is a visual artist. There is no one home but he does sees one of his sons paintings in a nearby gallery window. Unbeknown to him his son has been arrested in Mexico on a drug’s charge. The next visit is to married daughter and mother, played by Kate Beckinsale whose excuse for not coming for the weekend was the illness of her son. He is told the visit has not come at a good time and he realises that the son was not ill and used an excuse. He has an uncomfortable meal with the couple and son and when his daughter sees him off in the morning after visiting her work place she introduces him to a co worker accidentally met at the station. Afterwards he works out the marriage had ended, the husband had visited in an attempt to keep up appearances and that the daughter is in a new relationship with her co worker. The reason for not asking him to stay is that she is on her way to Mexico to find out what is happening to her brother.

His next stop is Denver where the father believes his son conducts the City orchestra when in fact he is content as the percussionist. He explains he is leaving on tour the next day but this is a lie as the son feels he has nothing in common with his father and does not know what to say to him. Because of different time zones he misses the planned bus to see his fourth daughter and is then mugged by a drug addict he tried to befriend and who in return destroys his medication just because he is able to do so.

Di Nero is able to get a lift with a female truck driver who takes him to a railway station where he can continue his journey to Las Vegas where his daughter has said she is a showgirl. Although the visit was to have been a surprise the children have been relaying the progress of his visits. This daughter lays on a stretch limo to meet him at the station and takes him to an expensive apartment where she is asked to baby sit for a friend. He hears an answer phone message which reveals that the apartment is borrowed and he works out that the baby is that of his daughter. He wants to know why his children never initiated talk with him yet told their mother. He subsequently appreciates that his wife was also given the picture of their lives they believe she wanted to hear as well as she edited what they said to fit into the his needs and beliefs.

Having failed to get a new prescription for his medication he decides to fly home and has a heart attack. His three children visit him in hospital and are forced to reveal that their brother has died from a drug overdose attempting to digest drugs rather than be caught with them

After recovery Di Nero returns home believing he has been a failure as a parent. He visits the grave of his wife and tells her all the children are fine and visiting him for Christmas except for David who will be having Christmas with her.

Before the gathering he returns to New York to see if he can buy the painting of his son and leaves his name in case others come on the market. Only after leaving the assistant realises the family name link and rushes out to say that his son had talked to her about his father stating that without the pressure from his father he would never had become an artist which had brought him great personal satisfaction. She also shows him another of his son’s pictures which is a landscape with a special feature power lines made of glue and macaroni as a tribute to the work of his father whose spent his working life putting up PVC covered power lines. The final scene is Christmas with the family present and participating in the preparation of the meal. The main discussion is over the cooking time for the Turkey and the father reveals that his wife overcooked but he kept quiet from not wanting to upset her. We learn from the presence of the friend who pretended the baby was hers that they are raising the baby together as a couple (this daughter is played by Drew Barrymore) and the married daughter is now openly living with her co worker. The children are able to be themselves as they are and the father has what he wanted bringing the family together in part out of continuing love for their mother. Paul McCartney wrote the song “I want to come home.”

The film is not as sharp cutting edge to have made it into an award winning all time recognised outstanding film despite the excellent performance from Robert Di Nero but contains many truth about parent children relationships when they become adults.

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