There are many reasons why this sweetheart of a movie is so disarming, but one of it‘s most outstanding attributes is that it absolutely loves women. And there are superb performances by three terrific actresses.
Sure, the story swirls around a man: Andy Garcia, to be specific, is dandy as a working class nice guy, aching to tap into his inner Brando. He’s the kind of guy who’s supposed to leave his day job as a prison guard to go back to his wife and kids on City Island (an uptown NYC neighborhood) at night, but actually sneaks off to an acting class down in the Village, led by the sublimely bored Alan Arkin.
Is his downtown trip really about the creative process or could it be that oh-so-attractive scene partner who keeps his interest, uh, peaked?
Emily Mortimer has a fine time playing said actress: mysteriously supportive of her friend’s struggles, both professionally and personally.
We know early on she’s not a threat to anybody’s marriage. But we don’t know that our girl has a not-so little-history of her own. Writer/director Raymond DeFelitta allows Mortimer to take her time revealing sneaky bits of her back story. When the truth is told, it delivers a wallop.
Also lovely is the casting of Garcia’s real life daughter, the beautiful Dominik Garcia-Lorido, as Garcia’s college-aged daughter, a sexy number with her own problems. Garcia-Lorido brings the natural chemistry with her father that makes her digging back and forth with him all the more infectious.
But the one who really got me was Julianna Margulies, who knocks it out of the park as the frustrated wife and mother. Sleek and smart, Margulies has had the pleasure of co-starring with some pretty neat guys in her day (loving Clooney on “ER” and bedding “The Soprano’s” James Gandolfini), but in “City Island,“ she gets to really play. A woman who’s not all that comfy with kids who don’t seem to need her as much as they used to, and whose husband is off God knows where, she’s not one to keep her mouth shut about things.
Sparks fly when this lady’s in the room and Margulies keep them sparkling. It’s ironic that, since this movie has been waiting a year or so for theatrical release, it is hitting theaters just as “The Good Wife” is blooming into one of the best new series on television. The two women Margulies plays could not be more different, and her fine work in both roles show us an actress relishing her prime.