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Date [ 2013-09-18, 19:05 ]

A mix of crime and black comedy.

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) by Ramani Rathir = This is the story of a notorious East Coast mob, the Manzonis. But then their head, Giovanni (Robert De Niro) becomes snitch. The Family, which is also the name of this film, now becomes the Blakes, with De Niro taking on the name of Fred. All of them are relocated under the Witness Protection Programme abroad. But  wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and two teenagers cannot but draw attention in the small quaint town , situated in Normandy, France.

Tommy Lee Jones is an FBI agent with the thankless and tough job of trying to keep the family under wraps, and who are finding it difficult to adapt to French living  They are after all Italians. It is a case of battles between butter and olive oil, especially when it comes to cooking.

The scene is set for conflicts between the Blakes and the  town’s people. A villager is peeved that "Americans always act like they own the place.” The problems pour in – the children are bullied in school, Maggie gets insulted at the grocery store and the plumber expects a bribe. It is hard for the family to keep their tempers down and their old habits away. Meanwhile their ‘friends’ on whom Fred had snitched and now in jail, send hit men to knock them off.

French director Luc Besson has tried to bring a mix of  black comedy mixed with fast action. Otherwise, why would Blake proclaim himself as a writer? He now takes the next step – putting down in his book, which by now he calls his memoirs, the stark secrets of his horrendous family and thereby ensuring their murder.

His literary dabbling impresses the local village film club to have Blake as their next speaker and they invite him to speak at a screening of "Some Came Running.” But at the last minute, the film is replaced by "Goodfellas." Blake has to struggle through while we watch squirming in our seats.

 Tommy Lee Jones is brilliant as the family’s protector. But he has little to do and fades into the background often. It is the same with Michelle Pfeiffer who also has nothing much to do except look irritated and angry most of the time,
Teen newcomers Dianna Agron and John D'Leo, do quite well, responding to Gallic peer pressure at school with serious American street hold-offs. Agron  spoils her image with her maths teacher - rather melodramatic and to use an old word, corny too.

This downplay seems to have drifted into the violent fights that seem  contrived and wooden, Are the  Italian hit men, Jimmy Palumbo, Domenick Lombardozzi, Stan Carp and Vincent Pastore to blame?
After it is all over, Director Besson has to be thanked for at least taking us to a beautiful and rustic part of France. More than this, the less said the better. abc@koreanpress.net

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