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This offer you'll want to refuse... ; THE FAMILY (15) By David Edwards Film Reporter

November 24, 2013


FROM Meet The Parents to Analyse This, screen giant Robert De Niro has long mined his Godfather persona for laughs. But laughs are few and far between in The Family.

The comedy-drama sees De Niro's Mafia informer Giovanni Manzoni in witness protection and moving to small-town France, with his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and kids Warren (John D'Leo) and Belle (Glee's Dianna Agron). But their fish-out-of-water antics leave a nasty taste in the mouth rather than a smile on the face.

Based on the farcical novel Malavita, The Family's set-up is fun at first. The Manzonis move in and take on new identities as the Blakes with a casual, seen-it-all-before routine as Giovanni decides to bash out his memoirs.

Brief flashbacks to his colourful past in Brooklyn entertain, but the focus is firmly on present-day France, although with a lack of mobile phones, it's not quite clear when the present is.

Sneering at their French neighbours, the family proceed to respond to mild slights with not-so-mild violence. The locals aren't much better, rolling their eyes and muttering dismissively about Americans and their junk food.

French director Luc Besson may be aiming for black comedy, but this is rarely funny and often uncomfortable as the light tone sits at odds with the dark deeds depicted. Although there's a dash of suspense when Manzoni's determined enemies start to close in.

Pfeiffer is game as the brassy but elegant Mafia wife, while Tommy Lee Jones is well cast as the put-upon FBI handler.

If you really can't get enough of De Niro shrugging his shoulders and raising his eyebrows, then The Family may amuse - but it's far from his greatest work.

BREAKFAST WITH JONNY WILKINSON (15) REMEMBER England winning the rugby World Cup Final in 2003? This comedy may bring it all back.

Based on the stage play, it sees a small group gathering at a rugby club to watch the game against Australia. And as the drama unfolds on screen, tensions in the audience emerge.

Aussie Matt (Michael Beckley) is challenging the chairmanship of Dave (Norman Pace), whose own problems are gradually revealed. Meanwhile, shy Jake (George MacKay) bonds with attractive newcomer Lena (Gina Varela) and reveals a strange life parallel with England hero Jonny Wilkinson himself.

It's amusing in parts, mainly thanks to Beckley's energetic rivalry with the Brits, although a journalist played by the film's writer Chris England has his moments, requesting a glass of the bar's least horrible white wine.

But this is a film that can't shake off its theatrical roots and the pace too often lags.

VENDETTA (18) DANNY DYER, pictured, goes on the rampage in this predictable thriller as Jimmy, a Royal Marine interrogation specialist back in London from Afghanistan out for vengeance. Why? Well, flashbacks show his father tackling a gang of thieves - only for the thieves to then seek revenge on him and his wife.

And so one killing leads to another... and another... There's little suspense as Jimmy tracks and tortures the men we know are responsible, and Dyer has even less presence than usual. Meanwhile, the local copper on his trail is meant to be the bad guy, but ends up as one of the most sympathetic characters in this nasty affair.

He's right: somebody has to put a stop to all this - it's just a shame it doesn't happen sooner.

PARKLAND (15) IMAGINE turning up to see the US president and capturing his assassination on camera. That's what happened to Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) that fateful day in November 1963.

This sombre dramatisation of the events on Dealey Plaza looks at the impact of the John F Kennedy killing on Dallas locals, with Zapruder's traumatic reaction at what he witnessed forming the centre of the movie. Also key are the hospital workers who spring into action when their beloved president is rushed into their care, and the FBI agents grappling with the realisation that the shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, was once within their grasp.

Produced by Tom Hanks, the cast includes his son Colin and Zac Efron as doctors, while Billy Bob Thornton plays a secret service agent. A sad tale well told.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR (18) THIS sensitive erotic drama bagged the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, but has since attracted controversy, with star Lea Seydoux claiming she "felt like a prostitute" filming the lesbian sex scenes.

Adele ExarchopoulosBut the explicit segments are only half the story in this rewarding, beautifully acted French film about the trials and tribulations of young love.

Seydoux plays Emma, a confident, blue-haired student who attracts 15-year-old Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos). Shocked but intrigued by her new feelings, Adele allows friendship to turn to romance and her life begins to change.

and Lea Seydoux Terrific performances, credible characters and patient direction help make their story utterly involving. You really come to care about their futures.

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