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Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 09:34 pm

Fine buoyed by De Niro’s return

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Robert De Niro returns for the cinematic wilderness with Everybody’s Fine, a subtle and effective look at a man who comes to realize that the family he thought he had shepherded to happiness is in shambles. Frank Goode (De Niro) puts on a good front, though his life is in disarray. His house is in order, he looks to his health and he’s getting ready for a visit from his four children, but truth be told, he’s hurting, as he’s retired and lost his wife in the last year. And when each of his children cancels on him, Frank decides to take the bull by the horns and visit them.

His journey takes him cross country with stops in New York, Chicago, Denver and Las Vegas. At every turn he realizes each of his children are troubled, despite putting on a good face. Amy’s (Kate Beckinsale) marriage is in shambles, his son Robert (Sam Rockwell) has settled for a lackluster job, Rosie (Drew Barrymore) is obviously hiding a big secret and the eldest, David (Austin Lysy), can’t be found. Director Kirk Jones does not belabor or overstate the trials each of these characters endure but creates a sense of melancholy and regret that his fine cast embodies to wonderful effect.

This is particularly true of De Niro, who delivers one of his finest performances, gently conveying the hurt of a man taught to internalize everything. His Frank is no fool and is strong when need be, as when he confronts his children about their lies. Yet it’s in the quiet moments that the actor shines, particularly at the end when Frank discovers a painting that David left behind. De Niro’s reaction is masterful in its subtlety and power, eliciting our tears with a glance. This is film acting at its finest and here’s hoping this fine drama finds the audience it deserves.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.
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