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Andy Garcia’s portrayal of Vincent Mancini in The Godfather: Part III (1990) is one of the great forgotten performances. He’s the flip side of Pacino’s Michael. The young, energetic, passionate street hustler, as opposed to the ageing, weary and emotionally challenged Don. Garcia nails the role, electrifying the screen with his pent up anger and cool machismo. Since then he hasn’t really had a meaty role, and only his smooth turn as Jimmy ‘The Saint’ Tosnia in Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead (1995) showcases his talent.
Perhaps his Cuban ancestry counted against him; race obsessed Hollywood producers believing he was a little ‘ethnic’ for the better roles, or maybe he was just in middle age limbo; too old to play the upstart and too young to play the father figure. Whatever the case, his turn as a working class corrections officer caught in web of domestic deceit in Raymond De Felitta’s City Island (2010) should be the spring board for a mini rebirth, and not before time.
The premise is a simple one. The Rizzo’s are your average family living in the sticks. Vince (Garcia) is secretly taking acting lessons and his wife Joyce (Julianne Margulies) thinks he’s having an affair. Meanwhile, Vince’s long lost son Tony (Steven Strait) turns up out of the blue, and feeling neglected, Joyce starts flirting with him. Throw in their two troublesome teenage children (Ezra Miller and Dominik Lorido) and acting school seductress Molly (Emily Mortimer) and we have all the ingredients we need for your average comedy drama.
What raise’s City Island above the rest are the performances. Garcia and Margulies are excellent and convincing as a long married couple in a stale relationship who are both in need of an injection of passion. Steven Strait is suitably handsome and roguish as the Prodigal Son with father issues and Emily Mortimer is solid as the alluring woman with a mysterious past. Dominik Lorido also shows potential as his blossoming daughter Vivian, but it’s a scene stealing performance by Ezra Miller which is the most memorable, all wise cracking and sarcastic as Vince’s wayward son Vince Jr.
City Island was never going to set the box office on fire upon its release. It’s just not the kind of film that is going to capture the attention of your average cinema attendee, but it deserves to find an audience, and hopefully its upcoming release on DVD will provide it with one.
Whilst City Island may not be quite as accomplished as last years superb The Kids are All Right (2010) but if you enjoyed that then City Island will be right up your alley. As for Garcia, he’ll be stepping out alongside Eva Longoria and the regal Peter O’ Toole in Dean Wright’s Mexican war epic Cristiada (2011) and his long gestating Hemmingway & Fuentes (2012) in which he is due to direct, write and star, might finally get the cameras rolling early next year.
He might not have gone anywhere in the last decade, but it’s good to see Garcia in a film worthy of his talent for a change, and I for one hope he gets the opportunity to prove his acting chops many more times.