I didn’t know what to expect when going into The Fitzgerald Family Christmas. I’d never seen a film from Edward Burns (as a writer/director), I’m not Irish and the mood of the holidays hasn’t quite sunk in yet. However, Burns and company have provided me with one of this year’s biggest film surprises.
Fitzgerald is about a rather large family with a rather large decision to make this Christmas. A long time ago their father walked out on them. He left his nine kids and wife for a new life. He’s now apparently ready to atone for his sins and wants to spend Christmas with his family.
It’s a thin plot, but Burns has written a marvelous script and brought a very talented cast together to bring the story to life. Burns plays Jerry and he still lives at home taking care of his mother (Anita Gillette). He’s the patriarch of the family, and he’s trying to bring everybody together to make this decision right.
There’s also a nurse taking care of an older neighbor (Joyce Van Patten) that is giving Jerry some new romantic hope. The rest of the movie and characters I will leave for you to discover. There are some great surprises packed in this movie that make it a pleasure to watch and a bit of a moving experience to fit into your holidays.
Burns’ mostly static camera style takes a little getting used, but it’s worth it. He brings these characters and their dilemmas to life. Nearly everything in the movie has a feeling of reality and yet the overall product still has the dream like nature every entertaining movie needs. Fitzgerald really does cast a spell, and it’s one you won’t regret subjecting yourself to.
The entire cast is great here. From Connie Nielson as the neighbor nurse to Michael McGlone as the oldest Fitzgerald. The biggest highlight of the movie is seeing the phenomenal performances from Gillette, Van Patten and the late Ed Lautner. Burns deserves credit for writing some strong roles for these older actors.
He also deserves credit for managing to direct a movie where more than ten characters actually manage to breathe and have emotions and personalities we have a true sense and understanding for.
Burns, a pioneer in bringing his vision directly to audiences via iTunes and other New Media venues, is strong and capable as Jerry. He’s a man that carries far too much weight and pain on his shoulders and yet keeps a warm nature in him for everyone to enjoy. It’s a character many will relate to. Actually, I think everyone will find a character in this film they can relate to or at least one that will make them smile or maybe even cry.
The Blu-ray copy of the movie, available now, includes a commentary track from Burns as well as an extra many families will embrace–a PG-13 version of the film you can enjoy with the kids.
Fitzgerald is funny, charming, entertaining and a fantastic film. It’s a worthy addition to your holidays.