Copyright Adam Dunlap and AdamDunlap.com
I just returned from seeing an advanced screening of David Belle’s new film The Family. David served as the film’s stunt coordinator, and he also has a role as a gangster. Need I say more for you to want to watch it? If you’re a David Belle fan, probably not. But I will anyway.
A bit of a back story first. I went to France last summer expressly to work with David on this film. He called me and said, “Adam, Adam, come to France and work with me on Malavita! You have to come, we’ve been waiting for this! I’ll get you a part!” So I went. At the last minute things didn’t work out for me to be involved, but no matter. I’ve been looking forward to the film’s debut ever since, and I love how it turned out. If nothing else, throughout the filming, I was privileged to have a bit of an inside scoop through David. David would leave for a few days and then come back for a few – it was on and off as he was needed (this is how films work). Every time he came back I got to hear about the scenes, his part, working with De Niro, and the whole buzz and excitement. Truly a fun and memorable experience.
The scene where he screams for like a tenth of a second? Yeah, you’ll see it. Well they made him do that part again, and again, and again, and he was screaming at the top of his lungs every time. The next day he came back from that so hoarse he could barely talk! Just an inside story for you 🙂
One more thing before I go on: in case this isn’t clear, this is NOT “David’s film” per se. David was just the stunt coordinator and had a small role as a gangster. But no matter! All true DB fans will always refer to this as one of “David’s film” as well as David’s first step into American cinema. And if you’re French, you know how much of an accomplishment that is and how much of a testament it is to what David has accomplished through Parkour.
Now to the actual film:
I went in with no expectations and I came out with a huge smile on my face. The movie had more than a few funny moments, but not enough to be like, “C’mon, the characters would never joke in that situation!” (I hate that in films). That being said, the film did have its unbelievable moments, and there were more than a few. But they were played off well, and they were endearing and developed the characters to paint the film for what it was. Best of all, the film had its brilliant moments – in a name this was De Niro. Robert De Niro to be exact, and he was simply awesome. Plus the script the writers gave him made this film something I’d recommend watching just to see his narration of the story he’s writing throughout.
All in all, I left the theater thinking, “…I thoroughly enjoyed that film and I can’t think of anything else I would have rather been doing for the last two hours.”
Is there anything else I can say? Oh yeah, David lol! David was great. I’m always watching “presence” when I view films, and David has got it. Even in a in-the-background role (which was literally 90% of David’s on screen time), he stands out as someone who is natural on set. A true confidence and understanding shows through in his presence in the film, and that’s saying a lot especially if you know David personally and the difference in his confidence in different situations. Believe me, he’s more confident looking down a 7 meter jump than he is talking in front of people. That being understood, his work on this film makes me all the more excited for his upcoming film and what he will bring to that in a starring role.
To add to my thoughts, here are two summary reviews I found on RottenTomatoes.com. They sum up really well my feelings on the film.
While we’ve seen the witness relocation/fish out of water scenario played out onscreen before, The Family puts a charming, darkly funny spin on it thanks to director Luc Besson and his great cast.
A surprisingly funny fish-out-of-water tale that succeeds thanks to its excellent cast.
If you’re wondering if you should view The Family in theaters, I’d ask you two question that’ll point you towards your answer:
- Are you a true David Belle fan? If so, then seeing this film is a definite must just for that.
- Do you have something incredibly awesome planned to do this evening? If so, then go do that. Sometime in the next month you won’t, and that’s when you should go see The Family.
I recommend going to this film with no expectations, and also trying to hit the film at a high time when there will be a crowd there to add to the energy. Go in happy to sit down and see David Belle return to the big screen and De Niro put on a comically and subtly masterful performance. I promise you you’ll leave happy you went. The kids are the icing on the cake.
Oh, did I say David also does a jump and roll? Well of course he does. I can hardly imagine Besson putting David into a film without at least making some subtle references to the legend’s history. It’s a good start but hardly enough. Next stop, Brick Mansions. I cannot wait.