Sunday, May 15

The Family Fang

The opening sequence immediately throws the audience in the middle of the story – the disappearance of Caleb and Camille Fang, two artists known for their eccentric experimental art. The movie is then partly told in a series of flashbacks and interviews in order to understand the world that Caleb and Camille have perpetuated, and the kind of world their children, Annie and Baxter have tried to distance themselves from.

Annie and Baxter are adults whose personal development has been stunted. Both have shown reckless and immature behavior in their respective fields. We meet Annie, a struggling actress walking on set topless, as well as Baxter, a novelist who got himself shot with a potato on a piece he was working on. While the two maintained a relationship, they distance themselves from their parents who were known in the art world. Which then, has the two children spending time with their parents while Baxter recuperates from his accident. 

Through the series of flashbacks where the Fang art has been displayed, the notion was always, was it art or idiocy? However, for Annie and Baxter, the performances that their parents have put on question the cross between art and reality. As the Fang children grew up, the effects of the art performances have changed drastically for them, thus eventually leading to the children’s alienation towards their parents.

The line between art and reality gets questioned once more when what was supposed to be a quick weekend getaway turns into abduction, when Caleb and Camille’s car is found abandoned and looks like an abduction case that has been prominent in the area recently. Annie believes that her parents are putting on a performance, Baxter believes otherwise. The rest of the movie is now spent on threading the possibility that they are dead, or if the entire thing was a performance. 

It’s been some time since I read the novel this was based on, but through the way I remember events, I think that this was a somewhat faithful adaptation. It’s amazing to see some of the stunts come to life, as well as the characters walking off the pages. Nicole Kidman gives a good performance, although sometimes she looks like she’s struggling to keep her character subtle, or her performance from becoming over the top. Jason Bateman compliments her performance, as he seems to just fade away from Kidman’s strong vibe that he acts as a neutralizer in scenes between them. The actors who also played the Fang family’s past selves resonate well with their present – Caleb and Camille are still the same, Annie and Baxter changed. 

This however, lacked an impact that is supposed to be present in these kinds of films, or at least the impact it had in the novel. There is no empathy towards the characters as each of them seem to be hollow. Annie and Baxter do not fail to make you neither root for them, nor do Caleb and Camille seem likable in any way. There were some plot points that were added and not further developed. Watching the movie now makes me question if I really enjoyed or understood the book in the first place, or if there was something lost in translation. 



Cast: Jason Bateman, Nicole Kidman, Kathryn Hahn
Director: Jason Bateman
Year: 2015

7 comments:

  1. Great review! This seems all over the place. I love Kidman, Bateman, and Hahn though.

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    1. I was expecting more from it, but this has a good cast.

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  2. I was really unsure about this one when I watched the trailer, and to be honest, your review makes it sound much more interesting than I originally thought! I'm still tempted to give it a watch, but not anytime soon!
    - Allie

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    1. I'm glad this interests you! I did like the book, but maybe my expectations weren't met with the adaptation.

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  3. Nice review! The trailer looked really interesting, but I didn't know how it would really turn out. It did seem a little all over the place. It's nice to see Jason Bateman continue directing. He seems to have a lot of passion for eccentric movies, and hopefully he'll helm one that really shows his talent.

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    1. I like his choices of projects, and I'm excited to see what he directs next.

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  4. Yeah, I think the film had a couple of interesting things going on, but overall I get the feeling that it wasn't as potent or resonant as it wanted to be.

    - Zach (http://fadetozach.blogspot.com)

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