City Island

In this clip from City Island (2010) , the son, Vince Jr., gets smart with his parents when they stress the importance of good grades, stating that regardless of how high one makes their grade point average, one will be destined to have an insignificant career in the long run. He’s talking about himself and his father, who works as a corrections officer. Vince Jr. is shown to smoke on school grounds and skip class, but what is most indicative of his character is that he is infatuated with large-set women. His fixation on them makes clear that he strives to be different, which becomes a running theme in the film.

The movie follows this family on City Island that is buried in strife as a result of the lack of communication between its family members. It reminds us of how the ideal American family is a broken ideal and that it cannot exist in today’s world. Secrets will be had from each other and individuals will engage in self destructive behavior as a result of that, regardless of station in life . The daughter hides her expulsion from college and becomes a stripper; the mother seeks an affair with her husband’s illegitimate son (unbeknownst to her). The son’s objective in the movie is to peek on the BBW porn star that lives across from him. The severity and oddity of each of the characters ordeals seems to make a statement that even in a well-established infrastructure like the American family, there lies chaos. There is no safe, secure station. Andy Garcia’s character, Vince, his acting teacher still has to audition for the same film roles as he goes for.

However, the movie offers a solution to the seeming inevitability of failure to live up to the ideal. Vince Jr. meets the porn star and uses her help to win the affections of another slightly obese girl. They spend their date baking at the porn star’s house. In a strange, slightly outlandish situation, Vince Jr. manages to live his dreams. For the rest of the family, once their secrets are let out into the open, they come to a place of resolution. In striving to escape the ordinary which seemed to eclipse their lives, they were able to salvage their decaying family by being truthful, no matter how odd the truth was. The film shows that cynicism is born out of the failure to accomplish the strange desires people have, and that just because a goal is peculiar, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be achieved.


One response to “City Island

  1. zacharykislevitz

    What’s ironic about this clip as a “cynical” portrayal of the American family as inherently flawed, is that it is inspiring in its rather comforting indication that this ‘type’ of dysfunction is entirely normal. Thus, this cynical view of the American family is just as much pessimistic as it is nostalgic for what makes American notoriously sweet: its imperfection and open-minded acceptance.

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