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Patrick Wang's "In the Family"

"One of the most accomplished and undersold directorial debuts this year."

"You've probably heard little about In the Family, a remarkably fresh and unpredictable drama set in the American everytown of Martin, Tenn," writes Paul Brunick in the New York Times. "This off-the-map independent production was rejected by 30 festivals before its October premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival and is now playing on a single Manhattan screen as a self-distributed release. In the Family is the first film by its writer, director and low-key leading man, Patrick Wang, whose creative background is in stage acting and dramaturgy. Not surprisingly the film boasts more than a few memorable performances… Yet Mr Wang's slow-reveal psychological drama isn't just a showcase for his excellent ensemble cast. Beautifully modulated and stylistically sui generis, In the Family is also one of the most accomplished and undersold directorial debuts this year."

"With an incisive understanding of character, believably naturalistic acting, and lengthy scenes that don’t feel stretched out so much as given room to breathe, In the Family proves that smart direction and an innate feeling for one's material trumps potentially precious subject matter," writes Andrew Schenker in the Voice. The film "chronicles the efforts of Joey Williams (Wang) to retain custody of the 6-year-old boy he raised as a son after the boy's father (and Joey's romantic partner) Cody (Trevor St John) is killed in a car accident. As homophobia rears its ugly head in ways both subtle and brutal, Joey fights the efforts of Cody’s sister and brother-in-law to take his son away…. Wang evinces a keen awareness of the ways in which family members interact, grieve, and open their hearts to one another."

This is "one of the most mature and nuanced narratives this reviewer has seen in some time," writes Michael Guillén, introducing his interview with Wang.

At Hammer to Nail, Dave Boyle first makes it clear that he's not a film critic, but: "I sat down to watch the film knowing nothing about it besides the fact that it was an American indie, it was three hours long, and it was being exhibited in 35mm. At the very least, I thought, it has to be a curio. In the Family is so much more than that. This is a monumentally ambitious film that tackles some of the biggest themes imaginable — identity, family, sexual politics, life itself — but presents itself in such a modest and unassuming way that its emotional wallop feels genuine and earned."

"I implore you to give it a chance," writes the Angry Asian Man, pointing us to another interview, Eric Lallana's for the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

Update, 11/6: Jason Sanders for Filmmaker from the Hawaii International Film Festival: "In the Family borrows more from the observational qualities of a Hou Hsiao-hsien or a Pedro Costa than any American indie; its attention to domestic spaces and how we live and move within them, in fact, nearly makes it a Tennessean heir to the films of Yasujiro Ozu. While not part of the awards competition in Hawaii, In the Family still takes the prize as the festival's strongest film, and the most surprising and astounding DIY American narrative of the year."

Update, 11/23: "Wang's background in theater and dramaturgy is on high display in his debut feature, In the Family, an acutely felt, altogether devastating family drama as intimate and affecting as it is sprawling and untamed," writes Rob Humanick in Slant. "Nearly three hours in length, the film is characterized by carefully blocked, deeply focused scenes that unfold naturally, if perhaps uncomfortably, beholden only to life's often overlapping, conflicting, and overwhelming emotions."

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This is so great. Thanks for profiling this, Dave. Patrick deserves all the help the press can muster.

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