City Island – DVD Review

The concept behind City Island is that everyone has a secret but, unfortunately, when these secrets are revealed, they’re something we’ve seen a million times before. And as if this isn’t banal enough, a very silly sub-plot is introduced that is clearly there just to make sure us idiots get it. Insulting your audience’s intelligence is never a good idea and, as the producers now know, not the route to Box Office glory.

Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia) is married with two teenage children. His wife works in a Call Center, his son bunks off school and his daughter is, to all intents and purposes, in college. Vince is a Prison Warden and is dealing with the list of prisoners who are due for parole when he recognizes the name of one of the inmates; it’s his son, Tony Nardella, who he has never seen. Nardella is due for parole but as he has no relatives who can sponsor him he will miss the opportunity of early release. Vince steps up and decides to take him home to stay with his own family but doesn’t admit to anyone, including Nardella, that he is the ex-con’s father.

city island

As soon as the film starts we are let in on everybody’s secret, which is a powerful situation for the filmmakers to be in and, had the writer colored each character’s dialogue with what only the audience know, another dimension would have been added to what was on screen, which is truly great storytelling. But this opportunity to give a wink to the audience is ignored, the secret world never impacts on the real and the opportunity for dramatic irony is thrown away.

The Rizzo family spend an inordinate amount of time bickering. One starts, another chimes in, someone else throws in their tuppence worth and before long war erupts, which should be extremely funny, but it misses the mark every time. Also, their insults are really quite civil, limited to things like school graduation failure and definitely not what the average family would say when they are going for the jugular and trying to annihilate their nearest and dearest.

If the writer is going to have another stab at writing a family drama, he needs to learn how low down and dirty families can get, and no better place to start than with the Mel Gibson tapes, who has insulting his loved ones down to a fine art. And if that isn’t enough, the writer should set up an interview with Mel’s much younger and now much wealthier ex, whose vindictive behavior has given us all a new low in domestic tack.


Germany 6 February 2009 (European Film Market)

Hong Kong 23 March 2009 (Hong Kong Filmart)

USA 26 April 2009 (Tribeca Film Festival)

France 14 May 2009 (Cannes Film Market)

Russia 23 July 2009

Israel 20 August 2009

France 11 September 2009 (Deauville Film Festival)

Brazil 25 September 2009 (Rio de Janeiro Film Festival)

Slovenia 8 October 2009

South Korea 9 October 2009 (Pusan International Film Festival)

Belgium 16 October 2009 (Gent International Film Festival)

Brazil 23 October 2009 (Sao Paulo International Film Festival)

Spain 20 November 2009

Sweden 25 November 2009 (Stockholm International Film Festival)

France 20 January 2010

Brazil 5 February 2010

USA 12 March 2010 (Miami Film Festival)

USA 19 March 2010 (limited)

USA 25 March 2010 (Newport Beach International Film Festival)

Canada 26 March 2010 (limited)

Portugal 13 May 2010

Italy 25 May 2010

Greece 24 June 2010

UK 23 July 2010

USA & European DVD Release August 31st