Eight months ago, Frank Goode (played by Robert De Niro) lost his wife of many years. It has been difficult for him to keep going without her as she was the glue that held his family together. She had great relationships with all of their four adult children and Frank is now finding that it’s hard to maintain good contact with his children as he just doesn’t feel he knows any of them well enough, but he’s very proud as he has pushed each of them to achieve their best in life. He now lives on his own and we meet him just as he is preparing for a visit by all four of the children at once. He’s all ready for them to arrive, but then one by one each of them calls to let him know they’re not coming. Bitterly disappointed, but trying to be understanding, Frank decides that if they can’t come to him then he will go to them. So, even though he’s plagued by heart trouble, he sets out on a road trip around the country to surprise each of them with a visit in their home town. First, he calls on David (by Austin Lysy) the artist, in New York City. Then he moves on to Amy (by Kate Beckinsale), an advertising executive in Chicago. After this, he’s off to Denver to see Robert (by Sam Rockwell) an orchestra conductor, then to Las Vegas where his youngest daughter Rosie (by Drew Barrymore) is a dancer in a big show. Things don’t quite go according to Frank’s hopes, but he does learn a lot about himself and communication within his family.
This is a very poignant drama. Robert De Niro is beautiful as the everyday Frank who just wants to know his children are okay and happy. He defies his doctor to travel because his urge to see them is so strong. He is so authentic, I could see every father in him. Of course, each of the adult children has their own life issues to deal with and while they each had a trusting and open relationship with their mother, things with their father aren’t quite as open and easy. The two daughters, played by Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore, seem to be more relaxed and natural in their characters – the actors seem to “fit into” these roles a bit more easily than Sam Rockwell does into his. He doesn’t really seem to be comfortable, nor gel well with the rest of the family group. We really only see David fleetingly, so no view can be formed about Austin Lysy. The directing is good and the film-making is done well – so we see the children through Frank’s eyes, as well as in their actual state. There is a journey, primarily for Frank, but by the story’s conclusion, everybody is fine and it concludes nicely on this point. It’s a good movie.
Made in 2009. Directed by Kirk Jones