Tuesday, 10 May 2016

REVIEW - THE FAMILY FANG (JASON BATEMAN)


A dark, inquisitive mind, or the suggestion of one, resides behind the facade of Jason Bateman's The Family Fang, itself a dark, inquisitive film that never fully follows through on its promise. The film inquires as to the nature of art, in what actually defines it and in how it defines its participants; Bateman appears yet again too well versed in the language and style of flat, shallow American comedy, a type of film that thrives upon actually shunning the semblance of artistry, to properly engage with his film's principal concerns, and squanders a ripe opportunity. The Family Fang is simply plotted, straightforwardly presented, an ideal vessel for discussion of the complex notions explored, or at least proposed, by David Lindsay-Abaire's script. Meanwhile, Bateman is plotting something altogether different: an offbeat comedy, the like of which might have fused most flatteringly with Lindsay-Abaire's more philosophical take. But the film is about as deft as a warthog dancing the waltz, and this muddled dramedy never develops into a work worthy of the effort that's evidently been put into it. Making matters worse: the shadowy brown cinematography by Ken Seng, recalling Woody Allen in his Sven Nykvist period, only without either Woody Allen or Sven Nykvist. Making matters better: the acting, with fine performances from the entire ensemble, but particularly magnetic turns from Nicole Kidman and Maryann Plunkett.