In the Family Reviews
Sebastian Banes won the Young Artist Award for Best Supporting Young Actor Age Ten and Under.
The film also received "Best Feature" awards at the San Diego Asian Film Festival, the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and the Spokane International Film Festival, with Wang receiving "Best Emerging Filmmaker" awards at all three festivals as well.
is the story of Joey, Cody, and Chip, a family living in small-town Tennessee. Joey and Cody of have been together 5 years and are raising their son, 6-year-old Chip, together. Joey is Dad; Cody is Pa. Cody is Chip's biological father with Chip's mother having died when he was a baby.
Tragedy strikes when Cody is killed in an auto accident. As Cody and Joey had never married (not that it would have mattered in Tennessee) and as Cody had never updated his will, Cody's death leaves Joey with no parental rights to Chip despite having raised him from the time Chip was an infant. Cody's sister Eileen, herself deeply upset at her brother's death, who previously had gotten along well with Joey, takes custody of Chip and gets a restraining order to prevent Joey from seeing Chip or coming to her home. Joey is, of course, devastated.
Now, don't get the wrong idea: this is not a preachy movie about discrimination against gay families. It's not a legal drama where Joey finds a crusading attorney who makes whose courtroom theatrics win the day for the downtrodden gay man. This is simply a movie about a man who has lost his son and just wants him back. This is a family movie about a father's love for his son and about the horrible injustice, the great wickedness, of trying to sever the bonds of parental love.
Joey, played brilliantly and movingly by Patrick Wang, is a soft-spoken contractor, not the typical Hollywood gay stereotype. Joey is a native southerner with a distinct southern drawl, which initially strikes the audience as an odd juxtaposition with his Asian heritage. Joey is a quiet, brooding man. He's confused and not sure what to do to get Chip back. Yet as angry as he is at losing Chip, Joey's sadness overwhelms his anger: Joey is still suffering the loss of Cody, and so grief is heaped upon grief when Chip is taken from him. Wang's performance is so honest, so true-to-life, so gut-wrenchingly real that Wang is not just an actor playing Joey; Wang is Joey. Wang's performance is absolutely brilliant. You will fall in love with Joey as you watch this movie, and you will weep with Joey, feel his pain, and pray the gods that he is delivered.
Joey's friends are outraged on his behalf, but all the lawyers whose aid he seeks bluntly tell Joey that his cause is a lost cause. Finally, a retired attorney, on whose house Joey is doing some work, offers to help Joey. To avoid spoiling the film, I won't reveal what the retired attorney does or even the outcome of the course he recommends that Joey follow. So you must see this film to find out how this drama unfolds.
Now, this is a rather long film (2 hours, 49 minutes), which I usually dislike, but there is nary a minute wasted. The film slowly but entrancingly builds in intensity and suspense, and the denouement-the last 30 to 40 minutes-is stunning, absolutely amazing. The climactic scenes in those final 30 to 40 minutes move this film from greatness to magnificence. I'm saddened that my words are so impotent in expressing just how incredibly beautiful and wonderful this film is.
is more than film. It is art, truly great art: this is van Gogh and Michelangelo and Mozart and Shakespeare. It is life. It is humanity. It is love. Yes, most of all, it is love. You will not be able to stop weeping at the beauty and the grandeur of . See this film!!
is an indie film that was first released in 2011; because it is from a first-time director and is an independent film, the film was not widely distributed and garnered practically no publicity when it was first released, but it received great reviews (among them from the late Roger Ebert and from the ) and won several awards at various film festivals. It has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is nearly universally acclaimed by the critics and for good reason. This is just a fantastic film. See this movie as soon as humanly possible.
Bravo, Mr. Wang! Bravo! Bravo! Bravissimo!
The "here" is the present-day American South. The moon in this case is getting baby boomer morals to wise up to the twentieth century when gay man Cody dies in a car accident, leaving his lover, Joey (Patrick Wang), to fend off Cody's sister and his outdated will in maintaining custody of the child he and Joey have shared together for six years.
There aren't a lot of surprises in "In the Family", so then why are you glued to the screen for all its 169 minutes? That's writer-director Wang, careful to populate "Family" with, well, just that feeling: love and family and friendship and sacrifice. In its shear number of long, beautiful takes you get the sense of an epic zooming closer and pushing tighter into race relations and fatherhood, no matter how unbroken the camera remains. You also get the sense that, like Xavier Dolan's "Laurence Anyways", Wang is being deliberate in his film's own aesthetic craftiness -- he'll do anything to make an impression. And yet "In the Family" manages to stay gorgeously out of its own way. Call it "Kramer vs. Kramer" given the "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" treatment, but when the results are this profound, anxious and intimate I'm fine with being punctiliously seared. Because to quote another near-perfect film from the last two years, you can force your story's shape but the color will always bloom upstream.