Review: ‘The Perez Family’

An enormously likeable ensemble, headed by Marisa Tomei and Anjelica Huston, struggles hard to give the proper color, texture and mood to The Perez Family, Mira Nair's serio-comic exploration of Cuban immigrants in Miami at the time of the 1980 Mariel boatlift.

An enormously likeable ensemble, headed by Marisa Tomei and Anjelica Huston, struggles hard to give the proper color, texture and mood to The Perez Family, Mira Nair’s serio-comic exploration of Cuban immigrants in Miami at the time of the 1980 Mariel boatlift.

Based on Christie Bell’s popular novel, adapted to the screen by Robin Swicord (Little Women), The Perez Family chronicles the entangled lives and romances of Cuban immigrants as they forge a new existence – and new families.

For two decades, Juan Raul Perez (Alfred Molina) has patiently endured hard prison life by dreaming about a reunion with his wife, Carmela (Anjelica Huston), who’s had to raise their daughter, Teresa (Trini Alvarado), alone in Miami.

Finally free and on board a boat to the promised land, Juan meets Dottie Perez (Marisa Tomei), a spunky prostitute who proudly claims, ‘I’m like Cuba, used by many, conquered by no-one.’ Once they arrive in the US, the immigration authorities erroneously enlist Juan and Dottie, who have the same surname, as a married couple. An indefatigable survivor, Dottie takes advantage of Juan’s frustration, realizing that if they want to stay in America they’ll have to become a family.

A major problem is the film’s relentless incoherent, often soft gaze at its characters. Attempting to make at once a charmingly free-wheeling and socially poignant movie, director Nair can’t find the right balance among the tale’s multiple facets.

Tomei is a spunky, attractive performer who has the audience on her side, but it’s still hard to determine whether she can carry a movie. In contrast, the usually reliable Huston underacts, rendering one of her most low-key performances.

The Perez Family

Production

Samuel Goldwyn. Director Mira Nair; Producer Michael Nozic, Lydia Dean Pilcher; Screenplay Swicord; Camera Stuart Dryburgh; Editor Robert Estrin; Music Alan Silvestri (sup.); Art Director Mark Friedberg

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1995. Running time: 112 MIN.

With

Marisa Tomei Alfred Molina Anjelica Huston Chazz Palminteri Trini Alvarado Celia Cruz

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading