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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Luc Besson|
|Based on||Malavita |
by Tonino Benacquista
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Luc Besson|
|Based on||Malavita |
by Tonino Benacquista
The Family (released as Malavita in some markets) is a 2013 French-American action crime comedy film directed by Luc Besson, starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones, Dianna Agron, and John D'Leo. The film follows a Mafia family under the witness protection program that want to change their lives. The film is based on the French novel Malavita (Badfellas in the 2010 English translation) by Tonino Benacquista.
|This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (September 2014)|
Mafia boss Giovanni Manzoni (Robert De Niro), who has somehow offended Don Luchese (Stan Carp), a rival mafia boss, survives an attempted hit on him and his family at a barbecue. He snitches on Luchese, which sends Luchese to prison; Manzoni and his family enter an FBI witness protection program under the supervision of Agent Robert Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones), and are relocated to a small town in Normandy, France.
In adjusting to life in the village, each family member runs into trouble. Giovanni is being observed by two FBI agents across the street in a safe-house to ensure he doesn't leave his house. Giovanni claims to be an author writing a historical novel on the Normandy landings, which is problematic as many citizens in the area are much more familiar with the event than he is. Giovanni finds ways to slip away and begins a quest to discover why the water in his house is brown, becoming irritated when no one he talks to will take responsibility. He savagely beats a plumber who tries to shake him down for money and a local fertilizer factory owner who interrupts him while he is talking.
Virginal daughter Belle (Dianna Agron) falls in love with Henri, a college student who is working as a substitute math teacher. She pretends to need math lessons in order to start a relationship with him and he rebuffs her, but she eventually seduces him. Wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) blows up a small grocery store when its owner spews stereotypical anti-American comments and often visits the undercover FBI agents who watch over the family from across the street. She also spends a lot of time at the church, where she and the local priest have an amicable relationship. Their friendship ends when she confesses the numerous crimes her family has committed and he tells her never to come back.
On the first day of class at the local school, son Warren (John D'Leo) is beaten up by a small gang, but he digs up information and uses it to curry favor with the most influential students, creating a mini-mafia within the school. This sway allows him to beat up the gang. Later he inadvertently alerts Don Luchese to their location when he quotes one of the kingpin's sayings in a school paper, which makes its way back to Luchese through a series of chance events.
Giovanni is asked to attend an American film event due to his supposed historical expertise and he brings Agent Stansfield along, claiming to want to bond with him, but in reality it's an alibi for a timed explosive he has rigged to destroy the structure causing his brown water. The film screening takes an unexpected turn when instead of Some Came Running, the scheduled film, they watch Goodfellas. Throughout the film, Giovanni expresses a desire to talk about his life as a mobster, seemingly expressing some guilt. The debate after the film prompts him to tell his story to the audience. Feeling his cover has been compromised, Agent Stansfield gives an order to relocate the family again.
Meanwhile, the school detects Warren's activities so he decides to leave town with a fake passport, afraid that the FBI will drop the family's protection. However, at the train station, he sees seven hitmen arrive and head for the town. He returns home to warn the family. Henri breaks up with Belle, which causes her to contemplate suicide by jumping off the roof of a building, but she stops when she sees the hitmen enter the police station and kill several officers. As Giovanni returns home, Maggie arrives outside and notices the team of hitmen, who have already killed firemen and who have proceeded to kill their neighbors. She takes cover in the FBI safe-house across the street.
The hitmen blow up the family's house, and soon an intense gunfight ensues which involves all family members. Giovanni and Maggie strangle and stab a hitman after he raids the safe-house and tries to sexually abuse Maggie. Belle kills a hitman who went to look for new weapons in his car's trunk. Belle, using weapons found in the trunk, shoots one of the five hitmen near the burning house. Warren shoots two of the hitmen while being given cover fire by Belle. One hitman is killed by the family dog, which he was preparing to shoot. While chasing Belle, the lead hitman is killed by Stansfield's car.
The family relocates again. Despite numerous innocent townspeople being slaughtered, Giovanni expresses his happiness at having had the chance to tell his story, saying that it brought the members of his family closer.
EuropaCorp and Relativity Media signed during March 2012 to develop two films, including their distribution. The Family would become the first one, and the second one would be Three Days to Kill (2014).
The script, written by Luc Besson and Michael Caleo, is based on the novel Malavita by Tonino Benacquista, published in 2004. The author did not want to be very involved in the development of the film, he said: "I knew that EuropaCorp would be capable of producing a film that could be distributed, both in the United States and France, and it was a very tempting topic". The producer of the film, Virginie Besson-Silla, admitted that the film's storyline is almost exactly the same as the novel's.
Originally, Besson would be the only producer. But after finding out that he was going to work with Robert De Niro and not finding a proper director, he decided to direct the film as well: "I thought that it was out of the question to entrust this project to any other person! I know the American and French cultures, so I decided to make me the director." De Niro asked Besson why he was not the director, and Besson told him: "Okay, you won."
The book's author wanted the cast to be "American actors that have their own legend, and when appearing on the big screen, they don't have to convince." When Besson asked him who he wanted to be the lead role, he proposed Robert De Niro. They sent him a letter, and later De Niro agreed to participate in the project.
In June 2012, it was confirmed that Michelle Pfeiffer would join the cast of The Family, motivated by the fact that she would be working with De Niro. They starred in different films together, but never got to film scenes with each other. Before casting the movie, Besson stated that author Tonino Benacquista said "[I]t would be so perfect if Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer played the roles." "It was like a dream." said Besson. Besson always thought of Dianna Agron while writing the character Belle Blake. Despite this, Agron had to attend multiple auditions. Agron later won the part. The entire Glee cast and crew supported Dianna's departure from the show to be part of the film. A dog named Emeron was chosen to be Malavita, the canine pet of the main family, who follows De Niro's character everywhere he goes. Emeron was trained by a specialist, and De Niro was the only person, besides the dog trainer, to spend time with him during the workout. Besson auditioned over 500 actors for Warren Blake, before ultimately casting D'Leo.
In May 2013, it was revealed that the film, originally titled Malavita, would be re-titled The Family in the United States, while other territories such as France retain the Malavita title.
|The Family (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|Soundtrack album by Various Artists|
|Released||13 September 2013|
The Family (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) was released on 13 September 2013, the same day of the film's premiere. It includes original compositions by Evgueni Galperine and Sacha Galperine.
|1.||"Gangster Tango"||Evgueni Galperine||1:34|
|2.||"20 Million Dollars (Interlude Dialogue)"||0:18|
|3.||"Me and My Baby"||Don Cavalli||2:38|
|4.||"First Love"||Evgueni Galperine||0:42|
|5.||"The Body"||Evgueni Galperine||0:49|
|6.||"Shoot the Dog (Interlude Dialogue)"||Paul Borghese||0:21|
|7.||"Teens Fight Back"||Evgueni Galperine||1:35|
|8.||"Once Upon a Time"||Evgueni Galperine||0:54|
|9.||"Both Arms and Both Legs (Interlude Dialogue)"||0:22|
|10.||"The Plumer"||Evgueni Galperine||1:01|
|11.||"Bad Guys in Town"||Evgueni Galperine||3:06|
|12.||"The Greatest"||Cat Power||3:22|
|13.||"I Want My Water Crystal Clear"||Evgueni Galperine||1:34|
|14.||"Best Dad Ever"||Evgueni Galperine||0:55|
|15.||"The Bomb"||Evgueni Galperine||0:47|
|16.||"New York, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down"||LCD Soundsystem||5:35|
|18.||"Manzoni the Writer"||Evgueni Galperine||1:10|
|19.||"I Gave You My Soul"||Evgueni Galperine||1:14|
|20.||"They Found Us (Interlude Dialogue)"||0:12|
|21.||"They Are Here"||Evgueni Galperine||1:42|
|22.||"The Battle"||Evgueni Galperine||2:05|
|23.||"After the War"||Evgueni Galperine||1:40|
|24.||"Doce doce"||Fred Bongusto||4:20|
Clint Eastwood and To Binge by Gorillaz is used in the film but does not appear on the Soundtrack album.
The first trailer of The Family was released on 4 June 2013. For France, the first trailer for Malavita was released in mid-July 2013. In August, some TV spots were released to promote the film. The film was initially set to be released, by Relativity Media, on 18 October 2013, then changed to 20 September 2013. The film was eventually pushed up to 13 September 2013.
The Family was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 17 December 2013.
The Family has received negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a rating of 29% based on 126 reviews, and an average rating of 4.6/10, with the site's consensus: "It's fitfully funny and impeccably cast, but Luc Besson's The Family suffers from an overly familiar setup and a number of jarring tonal shifts." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 42 based on 32 reviews.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky from The A.V. Club gave the film a B−, and said: "Besson creates the impression that The Family is set in a world drawn from gangster movies and comic strips—an idea that culminates in De Niro participating, as the town’s token American, in a film club discussion of a certain Martin Scorsese movie." Stephanie Merry from The Washington Post gave the film one out of four stars, stating: "There’s little to laugh about in dark comedy 'The Family'." Time Out's critic, Nick Schager, gave the film one out of five stars, sayin that film director Luc Besson "treats his protagonists as likable cartoons yet never provides a single reason to view them as anything less than remorseless, repugnant psychos." MSN Entertainment gave the film three out of five stars, saying: "Sharper, smarter and slicker than it looks, there's a lot to like about "The Family."
Linda Barnard from Toronto Star gave the film two out of four stars, saying: "While Besson knows his way around an action film, he’s not as adept at comedy. The result is an often-violent, occasionally amusing fish-out-of-eau tale that plunks a family of wise guys in the French countryside with predictable results." Mack Rawden from Cinema Blend gave the film three out of five stars, saying: "It uses irregular De Niro voiceovers on occasion. It reads segments of a book on occasion. It even uses bad dreams and flashbacks, all of which, when used together, make the film seem disorganized and poorly put together. All of that, coupled with more than a few jokes that fall flat and a plot that’s windy and strangely paced keep The Family from being anything more than a likeable enough way to spend an hour and forty-five minutes." Stephen Holden of the New York Times summed up the mixed reaction to the film: "The movie has holes galore. It has abrupt tonal shifts, an incoherent back story and abandoned subplots.... But buoyed by hot performances, it sustains a zapping electrical energy."
Although the film did not generate many positive reviews, the cast was praised by critics. THV11 said: "The core actors of The Family were really solid and the whole film comes together to make a solid movie." Entertainment Weekly commented about Robert De Niro's role, saying: "At this point, Robert De Niro has built an entire subgenre of movies in which he sticks his tongue out at his cinematic legacy." The Huffington Post said that: "De Niro, Pfeiffer and Jones all brought 100% to their roles. Glee actress Dianna Agron was the stand-out here, shining as the daughter who was falling in love for the first time, while defending her family from total annihilation by the mafia."