Frank wanted the holidays to be picture perfect.
In Everybody’s Fine (2009) Robert De Niro gives a quiet, and his most heartfelt performance as a widowed father named Frank, who only wants his family together for the holidays. He tends the garden and lawn, buys expensive wine and a new propane grill, and even remembers to fill the kiddie pool. He had everything he needed to host a reunion with his now grown, and independent children. But there is a problem. They all called to cancel at the very last minute.
Not a problem. Frank decides to purchase a train ticket to visit his kids unannounced at their homes–since they couldn’t make it to his. One by one, he surprised them at their homes, and they were indeed surprised, however, unpleasantly. So much so, their visits with Frank were cut short. The vague excuses they used not to visit–were modified for reasons he could not stay. One of his daughters, Amy (Kate Beckinsale), a super busy ad executive, was nervous to see her father just show up at her home. His son Robert (Sam Rockwell) told his father that he was an orchestra conductor–but is found to be the orchestra’s percussionist, also seemed a bit nervous for his visit. His other daughter Rosie (Drew Barrymore), whom he thought to be a dancer in Las Vegas, also seemed to be inconvenienced by her father’s visit. His youngest son, David (Austin Lysy), was nowhere to be found. We find out the devastating news about David later in the film.
In between visits, it is discovered that the three of them are keeping a secret from him. Eventually, Frank finds out that his children told their mother everything that went on in their lives–she was much easier to talk to. Frank held extremely high expectations for his children, which made them all afraid to tell him any bad news that would disappoint him.
What he got was family.
With each visit with his children, Frank flashes back to a time when they were little. There is something significantly poignant about those moments–reminiscing about his children when they were little, compared to how fast they have grown into the adults that they’ve become, and knowing that, somehow, you had a hand in their successes. But are parents willing to accept their kids’ failures? To admit that a parent may have some involvement in itself, an unacceptable truth some parents are unwilling to accept.
This is a reason why Everybody’s Fine is just one of those films that can reiterate the importance for communication within families. De Niro’s character performance comes across as a concerning parent who really cannot express his feelings very well. He often ignored the obvious elephant in the room–the underlying problems his children were experiencing. The sad thing about this–he did not find out about what bothered his kids until much later in his life. In addition, the moments with his now grown children he demonstrated the same controls he had over them when they were younger. Their conversations were more about their avoidance’s of topic, and not about what they should be saying.
If anything, this film offers an opportunity for personal reflection. A reminder perhaps, to revisit those difficult moments in life, and all its missed opportunities. Taking the time to ask how someone is doing, and taking the time to listen, regardless of how good or bad the news might be. Sometimes, everything isn’t always “just fine.”
So feel free to pick up the phone and give your mom, dad, or significant other a call. Ask them how they are. Perhaps, tell them all the things you didn’t think they needed to hear–or wanted to know. You may be surprised by just how much they will appreciate it.
Everybody’s Fine presents wonderfully in its Blu-ray presentation (aspect ratio 1.85:1). Paired with an engaging 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio™. The film running time is approximately 100 minutes and includes deleted and extended scenes from the film. Including the making of Sir Paul McCartney;s “I want to come home” music video. Subtitles are available in both English and Spanish.
Robert De Niro in Everybody’s Fine special features:
- The Making of Sir Paul McCartney’s “(I Want To) Come Home”
- Deleted and Extended Scenes