EVERYBODY'S FINE...except me, I'm a little verklempt @ 16 February 2010 12:09 PM
Everybody's Fine is a "people" movie, a study of characters -- both central and peripheral. It's a drama with some comedic elements, heavy on emotion but low on over-the-top histrionics. And depending on where it might hit you in your own life, it can be a real tearjerker, in that good way that makes you think about the important things and discuss them with the important people in your life.
Robert DeNiro gives an understated performance as a father who would not or could not realize he was expressing lifelong disappointment with his children if they were less than "the best." They had spent years hiding any flaws from him and sharing their struggles only with their mother, who had passed several months earlier.
Their stories come together as he travels the country to reconnect. Along the way, British director Kirk Wise (Waking Ned, Nanny McPhee) presents snapshots of interesting characters and fascinating faces, both genial and malevolent.
The part that touched my wife and me most was the technique using children to speak for their grownup counterparts in key sections of the film. DeNiro's character still sees them as school age kids and, through his reveries, so do we. It's not a new technique but it seems to work effectively here and often hits hard in ways that standard confrontational scenes could not. Since our kids are school age and we have parents we want to please too, it made my wife and I think about our own parent/child relationships.
One of the messages of the movie seems to be that it's not too late to pick up the pieces, but you can suffer great losses if you get too distracted and wait too long -- and we all need to take a breath and be more accepting of one another's choices. It's not so much that we should "settle" but rather that there are better ways to measure true success.
My only criticism of the DVD is that there is NO AUDIO COMMENTARY. There are a few extended scenes and a short look at Paul McCartney's involvement in creating a song for the film. A commentary was sorely missed.
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