IN THE FAMILY is almost three hours long, yet only has 300 shots -- some as long as ten minutes. It's a slow, methodical film. The final scene is a half hour long group conversation around a conference table. I can imagine that programmers, who are watching film after film for day after day, understandably start to lose the ability to appreciate subtlety and nuance.
I'm pretty sure, that in spite of its single screen opening that it will continue to grow based on the reviews. For a no-budget film with little, if any, marketing money, reviews tend to be your sole marketing. But sadly, film critics are seldom generous to small films. They seldom appreciate the aesthetic of grunge and I feel are suspicious of films without a more traditional release.
I haven't seen IN THE FAMILY but I felt like this was worth sharing so that folks can know that even being rejected by 30 festivals, doesn't mean your film can't find an audience.
IN THE FAMILY trailer from Patrick Wang on Vimeo.
Here's the New York Times review:
In The Family
By PAUL BRUNICK
Published: November 3, 2011
You’ve probably heard little about “In the Family,” a remarkably fresh and unpredictable drama set in the American everytown of Martin, Tenn. This off-the-map independent production was rejected by 30 festivals before its October premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival and is now playing on a single Manhattan screen as a self-distributed release.
More About This Movie
“In the Family” is the first film by its writer, director and low-key leading man, Patrick Wang, whose creative background is in stage acting and dramaturgy. Not surprisingly the film boasts more than a few memorable performances — by Elaine Bromka, Park Overall and Kelly McAndrew, among others — and one truly remarkable turn by the stage great Brian Murray, as a grandfatherly Southern lawyer with a voice as smooth and warm as a tumbler of bourbon, a role worthy of Will Rogers.
Yet Mr. Wang’s slow-reveal psychological drama isn’t just a showcase for his excellent ensemble cast. Beautifully modulated and stylistically sui generis, “In the Family” is also one of the most accomplished and undersold directorial debuts this year.
The story is both topical and timeless: a searching, present-tense study of evolving cultural values in the heartland and an unsentimental portrait of a family devastated by the tragedy of an early death.
Six-year-old Chip Hines (Sebastian Brodziak) lost his mother at birth, but his father, Cody (Trevor St. John), began dating again not long after. To the surprise of everyone in this traditional Southern family, including Cody himself, his new partner was a man — a man of Asian heritage, no less — named Joey Williams (Mr. Wang). Joey is a contractor by trade and a Tennessean by birth. He dresses down in duck jackets and denim and drives a red pickup truck. When he ambles over to introduce himself, with his easy smile and slightly down-home drawl, his voice sings with a kind of plainspoken poetry. Joey Williams is his full and legal name, not short for anything, and it’s a pretty good handle for such a straightforward and uncomplicated guy.
Beyond some lightly comic meet-the-parents awkwardness seen in a Thanksgiving Day flashback, the members of the extended Hines clan welcome their new in-law to the family — some politely if uncomfortably, some with relaxed warmth. The exception is Chip, who openly and unambiguously embraces Joey as “Dad.” But when Cody gets in a fatal car accident, Joey’s loss of a partner is compounded by a rapidly escalating custody battle with Chip’s sister (Ms. McAndrew), who secures legal custody of the boy to raise him as her own.
What follows is difficult to classify generically: it is too carefully distanced to be a melodrama, too personally specific to stand as a civil-rights allegory (an expected third-act courtroom confrontation is derailed in a fascinating way). What makes “In the Family” so elusive is that it is structured less by story events than whisper-soft subtleties of characterization and unspoken social subtexts. You will, for instance, not hear one overt reference to sexuality, race or gay marriage.
The film’s oblique cultural politics remain a tantalizing mystery. In interviews Mr. Wang has cited a meeting with the civil-rights lawyerEvan Wolfson as an inspiration for “In the Family,” and one might see the film as a cultural conservative plea to extend traditional marital values and legal rights to same-sex couples. And yet the film’s ending does not reconstitute the traditional family as such but rather suggests a more expansive and even progressive idea of what “family” might mean. Scenes unfold in contemplative long takes and carefully framed, deep-focus compositions. The style is too dramatically focused and pictorially unfussy to be classified as art-house minimalism. It is also too deliberative to be mistaken for a Hollywood prestige picture. Mr. Wang betrays his theatrical background with a slightly plodding tendency to begin and end scenes with arrivals or departures. But while some heads and tails could be trimmed, the pacing works quite well.
Though Mr. Wang’s directorial eye may be untrained, it is extremely acute. One senses that he is rediscovering the rules of cinema on his own. This is a career to keep an eye on.
IN THE FAMILY
Opens on Friday in Manhattan.
Written and directed by Patrick Wang; director of photography, Frank Barrera; edited by Elwaldo Baptiste; music by Chip Taylor and Andy Wagner; production design by John El Manahi; costumes by Michael Bevins; produced by Andrew van den Houten, Robert Tonino and Mr. Wang; released by In the Family LLC. At the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 2 hours 49 minutes. This film is not rated.
WITH: Trevor St. John (Cody Hines), Patrick Wang (Joey), Sebastian Brodziak (Chip Hines), Brian Murray (Paul Hawks), Park Overall (Sally Hines) , Peter Hermann (Dave Robey), Susan Kellermann (Marge Hawks), Elaine Bromka (Gloria) and Kelly McAndrew (Eileen Robey).