Movie review: ‘The Family’ (MA) **

The FamilyTHE title of this action comedy is ambivalent.

One family has arrived to shelter in a Normandy village under FBI witness protection. Robert de Niro plays Fred, fleeing Mafia retribution for monetary misfeasances. Michelle Pfeiffer plays his wife Margie and Tommy Lee Jones plays Stansfield of the FBI in charge of the protection team. Fred and Margie have a teenaged daughter and her younger brother.

The other family is, not surprisingly, the Mafia.

Apparently devised to satisfy US audiences, the screenplay’s mixture of French provincial and American cultures never gets comfortable. The village streets are virtually deserted. The Lycee, where Belle (Diana Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo) are enrolled, looks like every campus cliché we’ve endured in the Hollywood product (hardly surprising; this is a Hollywood movie as the Franglais diction of the locals makes clear).

The drama develops through the family’s insistence on maintaining its American lifestyle despite Stansfield’s instructions not to stand out. Back home, from his prison cell, the Mafia Capo sends his minions to wipe them out, leading to a bloodbath with a predictable outcome.

Have Luc Besson (writer/director) and Martin Scorsese (executive producer) designed the film to comment about current creative standards in mainstream American film? If so, they aren’t subtle about it.

At Dendy, Hoyts and Limelight

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