On the Couch 2011 #21: City Island

City Island is one of those movies that if you grew up in New York City, you need to see, especially if you grew up in an Italian section of one of the outer boroughs. The majority of the movie takes place on City Island, small former fishing village off the coast of the Bronx, but it’s not a Bronx movie. It could just have easily taken place in Brooklyn or Long Island City, Queens. This is one of those movies that I expect my relatives to enjoy, especially those in my parents’ generation, because the characters could easily be people they know.

The plot of City Island didn’t play out like I expected it to. When a cop makes the decision to take a con home to live with his family, it sounds like the makings of a Cape Fear-esque thriller. But City Island turns this plot device on its head. The young con, who is also unaware he is the son of the cop taking him home, serves as a character playing out the audience’s POV. He is the stranger in this very strange family, finding out their deceptions to each other, like husband and wife Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies both lying to each other about quitting smoking. No one in the family is telling the truth to each other, with the exception of con Tony, played expertly by Steven Strait

Even reading must be done in secret on City Island. Shhhh.

There is plenty of humor to be found in City Island. Whether it’s Andy Garcia’s prison guard (er, I mean…Corrections Officer) turned actor Vince Rizzo attending his first audition or his teenage son finding out that the object of his internet affection lives directly across the street, you will find something to laugh at. The humor is sharp, and comments well on both the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell those closest to us.

City Island should be at the top of your movies to see at home list.