Same Old?: Our Review of ‘A Family Affair’ on Netflix

Posted in What's Streaming? by - June 27, 2024
Same Old?: Our Review of ‘A Family Affair’ on Netflix

Romantic comedies often stay within genre conventions, although A Family Affair can go either way with its innovations. I’ll be nice and use that word to describe the fact that Richard LaGravenese’s protagonist is neither of the two characters falling in love. She is, instead, the person between them, Zara Ford (Joey King), employee to one and daughter to the other. And well, she’s also not the employee of her ex-boss Chris Cole (Zac Efron). She quits, and afterwards she badmouths him to her friends (Liza Koshy and Sherry Cola). She may be overstating how bad of a guy he is. He does come to her house and apologise but instead, Chris ends up meeting Zara’s mother.

Zara’s mother is writer Brooke Harwood (Nicole Kidman) and she and Chris end up dating and falling in love. I may have waited a paragraph too long to state the fact that both Efron and Kidman were in The Paperboy, a controversial film. This one isn’t gonna be as divisive, although strangely enough it starts out being two different movies. There’s Chris’ glossy world where, surprisingly enough, Zara fits in better, which isn’t me trying to say that the romance should be with those two. And then there’s the one with Brooke and her mother in law (Kathy Bates) that has more of an old school varnish, visually speaking.

Those early moments remind me that A Family Affair is a LaGravenese film, one with romantic creatives speaking in lively dialogue. When Brooke and Chris start going on dates, Chris’ world and aesthetic wins out, which makes this fall towards conventionality. My other big complaint here is that there are thuds as it goes on its slow denouement. The first of those is when Zara finds about about Brooke and Chris, Brooke defending her new boyfriend. Zara, of course, is trying to figure out why Brooke is comparing Chris to her father, which feels sacrilegious. Although if anything, fights like this make Joey King give one of the best freakouts in recent film history.

A Family Affair‘s second thud, then, is Zara breaking Brooke and Chris up after seeing two earrings. By the way, the earrings are usually Chris’ last gift to his girlfriends, which Zara sometimes delivers to him. This part of the film is montage-heavy, showing how all three are trying to live their lives without each other. I wasn’t going to try to spoil this film but let’s just say that it has no stakes. As I write this though, this feels like a comfortable blanket of a film with Zac Efron and sometimes, his dogs. Really, there is nothing else to ask for a Netflix film than to watch these kind of chill.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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