City Island

3 out of 5 stars
City Island

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Who would think that a sleepy seaside snippet of the Bronx could foster a Faulkner novel’s worth of family skeletons? Vince Rizzo (Garcia) is a prison warden guarding two big secrets from his family: a moonlighting stint as an aspiring actor, and Tony (Strait), a grown son from a past fling who shows up as an inmate. Our guilt-ridden everyman takes probationary custody of his close-relations convict, setting off a chain of mishaps: Tony proceeds to make eyes at both Vince’s wife (Margulies) and his teen daughter—who’s secretly stripping to pay for college—while urging Vince’s teen son to indulge his online fetish for obese women.

Somehow, writer-director Raymond De Felitta pulls off these proceedings way better than anyone has a right to, thanks to his light touch with potentially lurid plot developments and his generosity in letting actors flesh out their sitcom setups. Strait, a heartthrob in the making, almost steals the film from Garcia, who channels outer-borough local affably, if a bit thickly. There’s an inevitable clusterfuck climax of accumulated secrets that explode into histrionics, but what precedes the heavily accented sturm und drang is handled with delightful deft.—Kevin B. Lee

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