Everybody’s Fine is the story of Frank, a father of four older children that has recently lost his wife and is dealing with the monotony of retirement. When Frank’s attempt at bringing his family together turns into excuses left on his answering machine, he ignores the advice of his doctor and sets off on a journey to spend whatever time he can with his family. This journey across the country is not riddled with the family togetherness that you might expect from a holiday season film. As Frank stops off to surprise each child, he is only greeted by the lies of the children he attempted to thrust into greatness. These lies introduce Frank to the real family his wife and offspring had kept from him and are what makes Everybody’s Fine one of the most honest family films I have ever seen.
Even though the description alone may leave you searching for the times your local theater is playing New Moon in order to have a more sensibly happy time with your family over the holidays. Doing so would be a mistake as no other film this year will bring you closer to your family than this. There is not one person that this movie will not connect with as we have all spared our parents from the small things that could leave them in worry about our well being. These small embellishments turn into harsh truths as Frank is left with an overwhelming connection to his family that breathes warmly onto the viewer. You are left with a feeling of compassion as you yourself connect with Frank and empathize with his naivety about the lives of his children. This empathy could not have been achieved with out one of the best performances by Robert DeNiro in years.
It has become hard over the years for DeNiro to break away from his hard bad ass character ties and not leave you with the thoughts of better films after you walk out of some of his more recent film choices. I hate to admit this but because of roles like Righteous Kill and What Just Happened, DeNiro had me questioning the skill of what was once one of my favorite actors. After this film I have come to the relieving conclusion that the skill as an actor of Robert DeNiro was not the problem in those films as he gives one of the best performances I have seen in years. At the moments where we are forced to watch Frank break down to the overwhelming reality that are his children’s lives, all thoughts of DeNiro are gone as we are left with only his character. It’s DeNiro’s ability to truly become his character that made me love him as an actor and made me love Frank as a character.
The other surprise that came from this film was Drew Barrymore. Over the years I have learned not expect very much from Barrymore, leaving me truly taken back with the stellar job she did in this film. Barrymore seemed to slip into this character easily as all signs of true emotion come off as sincere and unforced, and at times you could see true compassion from her eyes. Drew plays Rosie, a Dancer in Las Vegas and the sibling that seems to show the most compassion for her father. Even though she has the most compassion, it turns out that she has the most to hide. I won’t give away these secrets because it’s the gratification of their reveals that make the film. She is not alone though when it comes to secrets as each sibling has their share of confessions through out the film.
Sam Rockwell plays Robert, a composer that is touring the country allowing him to catch up with is father in Denver where the symphony is playing for a few days. After moments with his father, Robert decides lying about his own state of affairs and telling his father that he is off to Paris, is a better solution than spending time with his lonely parent. Rockwell is one of my favorite actors and never disappoints and as Robert he runs a full gambit of emotions. Though the acting in this film was some of the best I have seen all year, it would not have been the same with out the help of director Kirk Jones who was able to emit every spectrum of emotion in subtle ways through out the film.
Jones has a way to artistically reveal the thoughts of Frank through out the film in ways ranging from past telephone calls that flow from the phone lines that Frank watches pass him by as he travels to his next destination, to the visions of his children at a younger age as Frank is welcomed into their lives. Jones uses the camera to evoke thoughts and meaning with out having to come out and truly make the statement, to the point where a single image at the end of the film will bring you to your knees with emotion. Over all, this film has everything I could ask for and is one of the can’t miss movies of the year. Even though it is an emotional roller coaster it has the perfect timing between it’s comedic and emotional moments to leave you with a warm feeling as the conclusion is revealed.
I give Everybody’s Fine 5 “bottles of European wine” out of 5