The Story: Jake Rizzo (Andy Garcia) is prison guard keeping a secret from his wife Joyce (Juliana Marguiles). Their college-going daughter is keeping a secret from her parents. Their teenage son is keeping his own secret. It all comes to a head when Jake takes pity on Tony (Steven Strait) an inmate who is eligible for home detainment, if he had some family, and so Jake invites him home.
City Island, the place, is a small fishing village in The Bronx, and despite a lot of exposition about this small town, this really could have taken place anywhere in New York. Or L.A., or really anywhere. The only thing that relates to it is the Italian American/Bronx accents all around.
What’s never explained is, why? Why is everyone keeping secrets? The kids have secrets because they’re salacious, and really, what teenager doesn’t keep secrets from their parents? But why is Jake keeping secrets? Why does his wife seem to disparage him? It gives some conflict to the story, but it’s never justified. That may be over thinking this otherwise simple movie.
The highlight of the film is Ezra Miller (from cable shows “Californication” and “Royal Pains”) as Vince, Jr. Either this kid nailed every line given to him, or just got all the good lines, I couldn’t decide. Emily Mortimer is great as Jake’s friend and mentor from class. And Steven Strait’s chest is a work of art.
What It’s Worth: $4.75, or about the cost of a rental. It’s almost worth it to zip through the first 30 minutes and get the gist of it, and then watch the last hour when it starts to get decent. It’s an entertaining flick, but not something anyone will be writing down on their favorite movies of the year or that you’ll go back to more than once. CITY ISLAND is a movie that you’ve seen before, and probably done better. It’s a family dramedy that would’ve made an entertaining TV show on Showtime or FX.