Photo: Courtesy of VAGRANT FILMS RELEASING
In the Family is a meditative and engrossing piece of filmmaking. by adam hawboldt
he trailer for In the Family begins with a stark black screen and a voiceover. The voice is deliberate, a sonorous southern baritone. The voice asks a character named Joey if he’s going to be okay. Then it tells Joey he has to figure out what’s important to him, regardless of the law. This captivating voice belongs to Brian Murray (who plays a lawyer in the film), and in a way its slow, measured pace mirrors the pace of the entire movie. Its seriousness echoes the film’s seriousness. Written, directed and starring Patrick Wang, In the Family is the kind of movie that doesn’t come around very often. It’s a serious, unsentimental piece of filmmaking that explores the essence of human nature in a new and interesting way. It’s a meditative motion picture that pulls the audience into its fold without seemingly trying. It’s the kind of movie in which nothing really happens, yet everything seems to happen all at once. And no matter how that sounds on paper, In the Family is a stark and stunning debut from a guy who may very well end up becoming an important director/writer/actor in the not-so-distant future.
The movie tells the story of Joey (Wang), an Asian-American man who is living with his lover, Cody (Trevor St. John). Cody has a young son named Chip (Sebastien Banes) from a former marriage. Things are happy in the household. Life is good. Then Cody dies in an accident and everything goes all topsy turvy. In his will (which one would assume was written before falling
[A]t the very heart of it, In the Family is a film about love and … family. Adam Hawboldt
in love with Joey), Cody has granted his sister and her husband custody of Chip. From there, Joey works towards trying to get the kid back. “Trying” being the operative word here, because being an Asian, gay man in Tennessee, well, let’s just say Joey has some things working against him. But don’t be mistaken. In the Family isn’t a film about gay plight
Compliance In the family Directed by Patrick Craig Zobel Wang Starring Ann Patrick Dowd, Wang, Dreama Sebastien Walker + Pat Healy Banes + Trevor St. John 90 minutes 169 minutes | | 14A G
and gay rights. Nor is it a film about racism or prejudice. No, at the very heart of it, In the Family is a film about love and stoic determination and the importance of family. And even though the movie is long, every scene is so well-crafted and unfolds at such a perfect, deeply focused pace that the movie never drags. It pulls you into Joey’s world. It gives you hope, it touches your heart. Much of which comes from the acting. Wang is simply amazing as Joey. He’s so effortless and enigmatic that, having never seen Wang on screen before, it’s hard to tell if he’s acting or merely playing himself. His ability to fold himself into character is compelling. So too with the rest of the cast. From lead to supporting actors, every person thrusts him or herself deep into complex roles in order to carry In the Family to stellar heights. Is it perfect? Well, no. Some people will feel it’s too long or too boring.
But if you’re interested in a movie about the human condition and how people really behave in the real world, don’t miss this one. In the Family will be screened at the Regina Public Library starting October 4th; see reginalibrary.ca for show times and ticket costs.
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Verb Issue R47 (Sept. 28-Oct. 4, 2012)