For Reel

The Family Fang (2015)
July 19, 2016, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Jason Bateman
3 Stars
The Family FangThat Jason Bateman was reintroduced to audiences as the star of a sitcom about a dysfunctional family makes The Family Fang appropriate material for his sophomore directorial effort. In the film, he and Nicole Kidman play the children of parents who made a name for themselves in the avant garde world through their performance art pieces. The catch is that the children themselves were often key to the artwork—in one of the earliest examples, the family stages a fake bank robbery, complete with false blood as onlookers watch in amazement. There’s a suggestion that the children were not born out of love, but as an extension the parents’ egos—they were born to be canvases, and living with the burdens of their parents needs and the resulting emotional neglect has left both of them complete neurotic messes. Despite the quirks of the material, it serves a thoughtful metaphor about child-parent relationships, and Bateman and Kidman have good chemistry as the siblings. Even by the end of the film, however, there is little understanding about how these characters precisely relate to each other—the weight of the relationships is too often limited to characters speaking their thoughts directly to each other. As such, the storytelling feels clipped and incomplete, with the last half’s turn into a mystery adding a much needed quickened pulse but feeling similarly distracting to the emotional core of the relationships. Regardless, The Family Fang plays as an interesting extension on Bateman’s screen persona in that it is not exactly a comedy, nor is it a tragedy—like the actor, its great appeal is that it feels pulled in many directions, utterly defying categorization.

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