Everybody’s Fine – Review

Directed by Kirk Jones
Starring Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell
100 minutes
Opens December 4, 2009

**** stars out of five

Every year Frank’s adult children come home for Christmas but this year is different; for a reunion weekend they all cancel at the last minute. Recently widowed, Frank (Robert De Niro) decides to go on a road trip and visit his four children instead. Traveling by train and bus because of a health condition, he begins his journey with his youngest child David, who isn’t at home. He then surprises Amy (Kate Beckinsale) before going on to see Robert (Sam Rockwell) and Rosie (Drew Barrymore). What he discovers is that all of them are not being completely forthcoming about the affairs of their lives.

Why See It?

Based on the 1990 Italian film by director Giuseppe Tornatore, Everybody’s Fine has a strong cast and a heart-felt script. De Niro plays the ageing, lonely retiree with grace and sensitivity – all he wants is to have his family around the table at one time. The scenes of him initiating conversation with strangers and boasting proudly about his kids’ accomplishments are quite touching. When he realizes that his offspring are harboring various secrets from him, De Niro’s revelation that he must accept them no matter what they do is very moving.

His children all react, with varying degrees of dismissal and irritation, to his unexpected arrival in their lives. It is interesting to see how De Niro interacts with each child and how they, in turn, respond to him. Also, the fact that this is a road trip keeps the movie moving at a comfortable pace which brings in the theme of the power lines. Frank’s spent his whole life working for a power company, “I ran a thousand miles of wire a week, nonstop, all for my children – a million feet of wire to get them where they are today.” The power lines are associated both with the traveling and the ongoing communication issues in the film – very effective.

Everybody’s Fine is rich poignant drama about a family’s painful secrets and the remarkable journey it takes to break the silence. If you are looking for a tear jerker this Christmas season, with De Niro gracing the screen in one of his most compelling performances – this is it.