Review: The Family Fang (2015)


The Family Fang (2015)

Directed by: Jason Bateman | 105 minutes | drama, comedy | Actors: Jason Bateman, Nicole Kidman, Kathryn Hahn, Christopher Walken, Marin Ireland, Harris Yulin, Jason Butler Harner, Josh Pais, Alexandra Wentworth, Michael Chernus, Linda Emond, Scott Shepherd, Charlie

What if your whole life is devoted to art, are you a successful artist? Even if you fall short of friends and, more importantly, family? In ‘The Family Fang’, mother (Kathryn Hahn) and father Fang (Christopher Walken) are successful artists. With their extreme performance art they startle unwitting bystanders with unexpected situations. A staged bank robbery, street music with rough lyrics and so on. The whole family is involved in this art.

Both Fang children are also frequently used from infancy to shake up the unsuspecting audience. As a child, of course, they have no problem with that. But as adults, Annie (Nicole Kidman) and Baxter (Jason Bateman) need to know nothing more about this. When both parents suddenly appear to have disappeared, the question of whether it is a crime (as all the clues suggest) or another art project keeps the brother and sister busy day and night.

‘The Family Fang’ is a nice mix of drama, humor and mystery. These ingredients ensure that, even though the plot is a bit slow, you remain captivated. Most interesting is the special way of life imposed on the children by their parents. Through documentary-style retrospectives, you see many bizarre situations in which they practice their art. This gives you as a viewer a rich history of the characters. It is therefore not difficult to understand how the two Fang children have trouble finding their niche in their adult lives.

What chafes a bit about the film is that these retrospectives are actually the most interesting part of the film. The bizarre performances are very well thought out and attract attention. The drama of the present sometimes pulls due to a lack of importance and does not seem to touch a core anywhere. If the entire movie itself had perhaps a little more of the bizarre style of the Fang’ art, it might have been. The film will survive, but may not remain etched in your memory forever.

All in all ‘The Family Fang’ is very well put together and well acted. But it does get bogged down a bit too much in a not too weighty drama. A little more craziness could have helped. All the right ingredients are there, but they don’t lift each other to a higher level.

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