The Family Fang | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Family Fang

Dramedy looks at the psychic costs of blurring the lines between family and art


Jason Bateman directs this adaptation of Kevin Wilson’s 2011 novel about a family of performance artists, and the fault lines and subsequent earthquakes that occur when the boundaries between art and life get blurred. The two Fang children have grown up as participants in their parents’ works — chiefly, outrageous scenarios acted out in public and captured on videotape. But the film mostly finds them in the present, as troubled adults — Annie (Nicole Kidman) is a movie actress, and Baxter (Bateman) a struggling writer. But when their parents (Christopher Walken, Maryann Plunkett) disappear, Annie and Baxter are forced to confront what is real in a lifetime of “performance.” Fang is a dark comedy, and there are easy laughs in depicting the frequently slippery nature of performance art. (Walken is a treasure portraying the éminence grise of public spectacle.) The art side is fun, and while the interpersonal stuff isn’t bad — Bateman keeps everything well modulated — its emotional payoff isn’t as satisfying.

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