This is the kind of movie that could easily sink into comedy hijinks as broad and flat as pappardelle. But it doesn't. De Felitta... makes no apologies for the outrageousness of the coincidences and gloriously knotty relationships and secrets.
All the performances are warmly engaging, even though the characters are broad and scenarios occasionally extreme. For those tired of clashing titans or weepy teen romances, City Island is a breath of fresh air.
In spite of an overly elaborate series of mix-ups that are revealed in a paroxysm of absurdity in the final scene, the movie has a genuine heart and a delicate earnestness that is as amusing as it is affectionate.
The cast proves game for anything, from Emily Mortimer as Vince's floridly English acting-class partner to a beleaguered, bewhiskered Strait, here displaying a comic prowess and fond knack for exasperation.
The performances are absurdly broad, and each story line is more outlandish than the last. But De Felitta's approach is so easygoing, and the waterside setting so irresistibly charming, you're bound to walk out in a great mood.
The complications have the appeal of a classic farce, and if the movie's humor requires a suspension of disbelief, the actors are terrific, and there's much pleasure in watching the way the drama redoubles and resolves.