Everybody’s Fine is a brilliant, wistful and heart wrenching family drama where we follow Frank (De Niro), a retired telephone company worker and recently widowed father of four, who is eagerly preparing for a reunion with his grown children at his home with a barbeque where they can all sit round the table together for the first time in years. One by one his kids ring up with an excuse for not coming leaving him broken inside.
So as Frank’s high-achieving kids fail to show, he decides to make a suprise visit to them by embarking on a cross-country journey all against the advice of his doctor so to play it safe travels by bus, train and lorry to not agitate his condition caused by years of applying PVC coating to phone lines. It’s a wonderful journey of discovery and realisation for Frank as he makes the visits to each of his four kids in New York, Denver, Chicago and Las Vegas carrying a letter for each and an old film camera that he takes pictures of his journey on with the photo results shown during the end credits.
Rockwell, Barrymore and Beckinsale offer support in minor roles and I always take joy in watching Rockwell perform but this film belongs to De Niro. He superbly creates a widower who finally learns the truth about the lives of those he loves most in the world after taking a step in the big world on his own and enjoying ever minute of the adventure. Frank is brought down to earth as he makes each visit which is moving and emotional as an underlying plot of the whereabouts of one of his kids is heard through phonecalls between the other siblings during Franks journey from one location to the next ensuring Frank doesn’t find out.
There are some lovely funny moments like when Frank asks a clueless supermarket clerk to recommend an expensive wine for his barbeque or when coming to terms with using a newly purchased suitcase with wheels, Frank never did these sort of things before his wife died and he shows he is the walking embodiment of vulnerability that eventually gets him in trouble later in the film on his travels.
It’s a wonderful film that entertained, impressed and emotionally smacked me in the face as the strenght of the film came from connecting with De Niro’s Character through his journey and I certainly did as Frank discovered, before it was too late, that his kids are no longer young and helpless and that they and their lives are complex but he loves them all the more for realising it.
It’s quite amusing seeing the cheery family orientated christmas movie the American Poster for Everybody’s fine advertises as it’s nothing like what that poster hints on and glad the new poster has been released which sums up the mood of the film perfectly.
Go see it, especially for De Niro’s perfect performance.
Everybody’s Fine is out on 26th February.