The Family (aka Malavita) review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
A long awaited action-comedy from the man behind the Fifth Element and Leon the Family is a bit of a diamond in the rough compared to its elder siblings; yet the latest offering from Luc Besson has moments of ingenuity and sparkle that are notable in their own right.
Having said that however Besson owes a great deal to another great film maker, with many scenes beautifully inspired by the gangster movies of one Martin Scorsese.
With a number of big names behind it, including Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones the Family immediately has quite a lot going for it; couple that with it’s tongue in cheek story and the same over the top violence and horror so unashamed it is almost glorious present in Leon and La Femme Nikita it would take quite a lot of work to screw up this movie.
The narrative follows a notorious mafia family, the Manzoni’s, who are moved to the French Rivera when the join the witness protection programme. With patriarch Giovanni (De Niro) at the head as and old fashioned wise guy the family, now named the Blakes, relocate to Europe but struggle to get a handle on their old mob habits.
Though it isn’t a work of genius, there is something fun and sparky about the Family, thanks largely to an excellent performance from Pfeiffer as De Niro’s wife Maggie she can’t help but steal the show; not only is she the heart of the family but her character is often the one from whom the laughs and warmth of the film unwinds. Otherwise the film is somewhat sporadic and haphazard, the narrative meanders somewhat, not really going any in particular, but giving the audience a fun ride as they take the journey.