Family Plot Reviews
I disagree, I thought this film was great fun. My only complaint was at times Barbara Harris was way over the top and highly irritating but everyone else in the film made up for that especially Bruce Dern, he was a delight. Great Premise and the right amount of drama and humour. loved it!
I didn't go into Family Plot with the highest expectations as its legacy fails to live up to the standard of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces and the latest films in his career were proving to be of little quality. Plus, I was aware that the film was a bit more of a black comedy than a straight up thriller like many of his other pieces. That actually ended up being interesting to experience. The light nature of Family Plot made it a film which was possible to take seriously, but not one which was packed full of plot dynamics and different story angles. It still has its faults, but they are easy to keep up with in Family Plot because intense focus is not as much of a requirement this time around.
One of the issues is that there are quite a few characters to keep up with. While the central premise is fairly straightforward, the film is largely about two parallel narratives that run which reveal the two main perspectives of the event occurring, much like the structure put into Alfred Hitchcock's preceding film Frenzy. At the same time, the film flashes back to character Julia Rainbird's relevance to the tale among others. This settles down as bit as the story gets on and the focus ends up a lot more on better characters for longer periods of time without so many shifts, but it doesn't give the film a perfect startup. After a while however, things get settled and the film progresses nicely. The story unfolds at a sensible pace and things get intriguing. And although the story may not be the best that Alfred Hitchcock has told in his career and the pace of the film is slow as most films of the day were, it is still an entertaining piece of cinema.
Admittedly, Family Plot seems like a lesser piece from Alfred Hitchcock. It is an enjoyable piece, but it feels like a more conventional film without too much of a personal touch. He does line the film with atmosphere which is pivotal, but it lacks the same edge as many of his other works. But the effort of his directorial work is undeniable. It is interesting to see him taking on a different type of genre this time, with the mix between dark comedy and legitimate mystery thriller being an interesting hybrid. I found that Family Plot was one of Alfred Hitchcock's better pieces from the end of his career and his best since Marnie in 1964. He did give a great handling to the screenplay and was able to emphasize a lot of clever style in it by adding strong visual elements to it. Taking the low budget of Family Plot for a spin, Alfred Hitchcock gets a lot of nice scenery and production design to fuel Family Plot from the get go, and it works because the story is easily believable and contains some memorable imagery. Admittedly the German Expressionism moments in the film didn't add much due to the visual effects coming off as more cheap than artistic, but it is easy to overlook and even worth a bit of a laugh as an unintended comic virtue.
The musical score of the film is well composed. Crafted by legendary composer John Williams, Family Plot benefits from some strong music which maintains the spirit of many of his earlier works, more specifically the ones where he worked with Bernard Hermann. Yet at the same time it is also different. It is more subtle and lighter in nature which makes it tie into the general mood of the film really nicely while enhancing it .
And Family Plot is also a very well-acted piece.
Bruce Dern and Barbara Harris are terrific in Family Plot. In one of his earliest lead performances, Bruce Dern makes an easily likable protagonist, and Barbara Harris has a certain charming edge to her. The chemistry between the two actors is very relaxed and easy, and Bruce Dern is the more likable of the two partially because his character is a bit of an everyman. As the two of them are small time petty crooks, their transition into the underbelly of the real crime world is an interesting one because it depicts that they really fail to know anything about the life of a criminal, and the discoveries they make drive them further and further into a world they could not understand. The two of them are likable figures for the story, and both actors really work well together.
Karen Black is unpredictable in Family Plot. Despite being involved with criminal activities and siding with the enemy, Karen Black always has a certain edge of likable demeanour to her attributable to her natural charm, and the fact that there is always a sense of underlying reluctance in her. She also works really well alongside William Devane, so her performance in Family Plot pays a lot of credit to her as an actress.
William Devane is in fine form as well. He maintains a sophisticated dark edge in the role which has him walk an interesting line through the film. He has a Vincent Price-ish attire to him in the sense that he is dark and yet clever in a manipulative fashion. He has a sense of darkness and unpredictability to him, and yet he portrays the character in a really light manner. He encourages both the dark nature of the crime elements in the film and the light touch of comedy in the atmosphere which makes his performance on that matches the mood easily. William Devane is fine form as the central antagonist in Family Plot.
So although Family Plot is not one of Alfred Hitchcock's finest piece, it is a step up for him from three less than stellar preceding pieces due to his hard work in making it a quirky and atmospheric dark comedy / crime film which is fuelled by a strong film style and a strong cast.
Family Plot was Alfred Hitchcock's last movie. He died four years after it was released. While not anywhere near the dizzying heights of Hitchcock's best movies (Rear Window, Psycho, among others) it is reasonably good.
Interesting main plot with some good twists along the way. Some inconsistencies though, especially in some of the sub-plots. Not everything entirely makes sense. Also, giving away the secret so soon in the movie removed a lot of the potential mystery in the movie.
As always with a Hitchcock movie, what sustains the movie is the suspense. Hitchcock keeps you hooked the whole way through.
Also has some good humorous moments.
Good performance by Bruce Dern as George. Barbara Harris was a touch unconvincing and irritating as Blanche. William Devane is okay, and suitably devious, as the criminal, though his 70s moustache was a bit too creepy.
RIP Alfred Hitchcock.
Whether it be because it's even self-aware about its dramatic thinness, or simply because of whatever, this film doesn't put much thought into developing its characters, whose unlikable traits are hard to deny without being veiled by some extensive characterization, and loosen your investment about as much as the many moments in which the film jars in its focal shifts. Something of an ensemble piece, this film juggles several plots, and messily so, giving you time to detach yourself from certain characters the longer the film focuses on others, something that it didn't have to do, and probably wouldn't have done if Ernest Lehman's script didn't go dragged out my meandering bits in material which break up a fair deal of tightness. Yeah, there are plenty of places in which the film feels tight, but in plenty of other areas in this ultimately unnecessarily two-hour-long affair, things outstay their welcome, and such pacing inconsistencies challenge engagement value, not unlike the tonal unevenness. The film opens with a séance sequence that is so cloyingly scored, overacted and lamely written that it, quite frankly, is rather embarrassing, and after that, the level of cheese takes a serious drop, yet it admittedly rarely, if ever truly dissipates, as certain missteps in dialogue or overblown aspects to humor distance, particularly when they break a certain relative seriousness through tonal inconsistencies that limit a sense of weight to this narrative. I don't suppose the inconsistencies in pacing and tone are as severe as I make them sound, being not much more glaring than the developmental shortcomings that you kind of get used to after a while, thanks to storytelling's and acting's shining a light on the color of this ensemble piece, yet those issues stand, and the more they stick around, the harder it gets to be to ignore how kind of overblown the telling of this story is, for although there's plenty of intrigue to the idea behind this pseudo-thriller, it's natural shortcomings that really hold this thing back. There's only so much momentum and sense of consequence to this not-so lighthearted fluff piece, and while the entertainment value is there, it can't quite make the final product all that memorable, through all the inconsistencies. Consequential shortcomings are almost as recurring as natural shortcomings, but just as recurring as anything are the strengths, of which there are enough to sustain a decent amount of entertainment value, with the help of lively score work.
At least notable as the meeting between two legends of the offscreen aspects of filmmaking, this film sees Alfred Hitchcock employing the great John Williams to compose a score that isn't all that special, is formulaic, and isn't even all that prominently used on the whole in this mostly unmusical film, but it's most certainly rich with much of that classic John Williams color, which, while subtle, helps sustain liveliness, when actually played upon, that is. Needless to say, more recurring than the score work in this ensemble piece is, of course, the ensemble of performers, for although Barbara Harris, maybe even a few other people, gets carried away with some of the film's more cheesy material (Like I said, that opening séance scene is a bit of a challenge), most everyone in this perhaps overblown cast charms, with the leads nailing their morally questionable characters' sleaze with enough realization to help win you over, despite expository shortcomings. As with many of your trademark dark comedies, this film is driven by thoroughly flawed and often unredeemed characters, and in order to sell them as driving forces in this ensemble piece, it needs the charismatic performances that are found just about across the board in this heathily sizable collection of talents, and might also require some inspiration to writing. Ernest Lehman's script is perhaps the relative weakest aspect of the film, as it bloats its interpretation of a somewhat thin story concept with uneven pacing, while limiting development and control on tonal dynamicity, however limited, yet Lehman still delivers on plenty of wit to dialogue, as well as humor that is never broad enough to be riotous, but still amuses, to some extent, time and again. Cleverness is pretty prominent through the script's dialogue and subtle humor, but also applies to the handling of this narrative, which is dramatically thin, yet tells an interesting tale about several people's varying investigative takes on a case involving a dark family secret, sold in no small part by the colorful acting, scripting and direction. Not counting the ultimately unfinished "The Short Night", this film marked the final project by the legendary Alfred Hitchcock, and no, it's not a terribly worth testament to the late, great filmmakers groundbreaking abilities, yet Hitchcock's direction still carries the final product's engagement value, however limited, as much as anything, framing the film evenly enough to immerse you into the setting of the film, if not immerse you into a degree of intensity, while utilizing a certain steady pacing that, while a little too limp on occasion, thoughtfully soaks up the subtleties that make the film so interesting in so many places. Alas, were the film a little more comfortable in its storytelling, it would have bordered on rewarding, and if the story was a little meatier on top of that, then the final product would have gripped as a grand finale in Hitchcock's career, yet Hitchcock, joined by a team of other talented filmmakers, holds enough of your attention with entertainment value, if not tension, to keep you going, at least up to a point.
When it's all done and buried, limitations in development and an excess in material beget focal inconsistencies in this ensemble piece, while cheesy occasions and a hint of tonal inconsistency reflect the plot's being kind of thin secure the final product as rather underwhelming, but a colorful score, charismatic performances, clever writing and a reasonably well-structured final directorial performance by the late, great Alfred Hitchcock dig up enough intrigue to endear you to "Family Plot" as a serviceably entertaining affair, improvable as Hitchcock's grand finale though it may be.
2.5/5 - Fair
"Family Plot" no es considerada una de las mejores del director pero aún así es muy entretenida y contiene varios de sus sellos característicos. Muy recomendable.