In the Family
A film by Patrick Wang
Starring Sebastian Banes, Patrick Wang, Trevor St. John
In his remarkably assured directorial debut, Patrick Wang revitalizes independent American filmmaking with the penetrating, wholly original In the Family. Eschewing formula and stereotype, Wang delivers a heartfelt story woven around child custody, “two-Dad” families, parental loss, interracial relations, and the human side of the law. The project is galvanized by strong performances from a veteran ensemble and music by the legendary Chip Taylor (Wild Thing; Angel of the Morning).
The film opens with the daily routines of an ordinary family in Tennessee, where Joey (Patrick Wang) and Cody (Trevor St. John) are raising their precocious son Chip. The narrative shifts into the extraordinary after tragedy forces Joey to raise his son alone. Joey’s grief is compounded when he discovers that Cody’s sister has been granted custody of Chip. This unforeseen legality unravels Joey’s tenuous acceptance in Cody’s family, which becomes further complicated by racial distrust.
Wang allows the film’s ambitious length to patiently interweave flashback sequences that reveal the complex nature of Cody’s relationship with Joey, their relationship with Cody’s family, and Joey’s relationship to his orphaned past. Rarely has the nature of what it means to be in a family been examined with such rewarding nuance. Refusing to demonize any member of the family, Wang offers instead a transcendent narrative that embraces how light and shadow both shape the human heart.
The film waxes its every moment into a crystalline pocket of time, finding the universal in the microcosmic, and always deepening itself with flabbergasting levels of imbued details.
Critic’s Pick! A remarkably fresh and unpredictable drama. One of the most accomplished and undersold directorial debuts this year.
— New York Times
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- Running Time
- 169 mins