An Ordinary Family
I wanted to like this film.
It had a very compelling, contemporary story. A gay man brings his lover to a family vacation, unbeknownst to his brother who is a minister complete with wife and children. What ensues are the typical scenes you’d expect from this formula–brother confronting brother, the talk about how dad would feel if he were alive, mother playing the peacemaker.
I found the film to be somewhat shallow and the story arc to be disjointed and chaotic. During the Q & A afterwards, I discovered why. Every scene and all the dialogue in the movie was done extemporaneously. While the story arc was mapped out, each scene was created unscripted.
Perhaps this approach led to moments of wonderful spontaneity. For me, however, it mostly led to moments that felt cliche-ish and to an overall story that lacked the kind of depth one can find in a movie that is crafted more carefully.
At the end of the film, in a moment of FFF creativity, one of the lead actors was able to do a Q & A using Skype from his bedroom in New York. I asked him about the advantages and disadvantages of doing a non-scripted movie.
He liked how each scene could be “fresh and spontaneous. You have to listen to what the other person is saying,” he continued. ”You have to figure out where your voice in the conversation will come.”
As for the downside he replied, “Disadvantages are that you don’t know where it’s going. We had one couple that was supposed to play a larger role. However, they got got marginalized as the week wore on.”
While I’m a big fan of extemporaneous theatre, I also recognize it takes a special talent to really pull it off. This movie was OK. According to the actor who spoke, it was an important film for the LGBT community. But it’s not the best the FFF had to offer.
Some audience members don’t agree with me, however. “I thought it was awesome. I liked the emotion. It was honest and real, very believable. I liked that they had the kids in it,” says Geri from Toronto.
“It was excellent. It was amazing. We’re going to watch it again, now that we know it was ad libbed,” saidTricia. Marilyn chimed in,
“Such a meaningful story for today. Struggles of a real family.” Tricia added, It was beyond what I was expecting.”
Another woman joins the conversation and together the three of them have a very animated talk about the unscripted nature of this movie. Isn’t this wonderful? Even a film that may not be the best provides moments of discussion and insight.
It’s why we love the FFF!