Andy Garcia’s Career High Turn as a Family Man with Secrets Makes City Island the Year’s Best Acted Film
By Lee Shoquist
City Island, the new family comedy starring Andy Garcia as the patriarch of a Bronx family wrestling with long-buried secrets, is the best family movie in ages and a labor of love for the star, who also produced the low-budget, independent feature.
As Vinnie Rizzo, a prison guard who secretly dreams of being an actor and undergoes a chance encounter with a son he abandoned, the actor deftly balances comedy and pathos as he comes to terms with the responsibilities of an adult man—to others and to himself.
Vinnie Rizzo is as complex a character as Garcia has played, which is really saying something considering my favorites on his resume—Oscar-nominated, hair-trigger Vincent Corleone in The Godfather III, husband to alcoholic Meg Ryan in When a Man Loves a Woman, cop crusading for justice in Internal Affairs and wet behind the ears journalist chasing a serial killer in The Mean Season. Expert, each of them. Yet in City Island, which may just be his best, the actor is perfectly pitched in a performance that is symphonic in its notes and dimensions of fatherhood and manhood. To say the character resonates deeply by the film’s climactic street corner blow-out between all parties is an understatement.
An Interview with Andy Garcia
How did you get involved with the movie in the first place?
Ray [De Felitta, the director] had it before me, trying to get it made, and he was having difficulties. It came to me through our mutual PR agency... someone suggested, 'Hey, what about Andy?' and he said, 'Why not?' At least I hope that's what he said. You'd have to ask Ray about whether he really wanted me or not. Regardless, I fell in love with the script, and I told him that I'd help him produce it, too.
What was it like playing prison guard Vince?
I loved Vince Rizzo. I love the fact that this character was put in these farcical situations, but they were all based in a very real, human emotional reality. You'll note that there are no jokes in the movie, it's all behaviour and situational. He has this private, deep-rooted painful dream of being an actor, and he's so embarrassed by it. His obsession with [Marlon] Brando too, which is something I brought to the script, is very charming. It's easy to fall in love with him.
Read the full interview here.