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The Family Stone

When you see the print ad for Thomas Bezucha's The Family Stone, with its seven principals, after seeing the movie, you might want to suggest a rethink. Actors Tyrone Giordano and Brian White may not be as famous as any of the movie stars in the ad, but their contribution to the film is enormous. (So is that of Elizabeth Reaser.) I haven't read every review of this movie, but I don't recall reading in any of them that, of the five Stone children, one is both deaf and gay, and that his lover is black. The detail might strike you as decorative or trendy, but in fact the relationship occasions the story's moment of disaster, after which all the pretences set up in the earlier part of the film are shaken to pieces and the ground is cleared for a better ending than might have been imagined. This occurs at the dinner table - the only such scene in this Christmas-family-reunion movie. Thad (Mr Giordano) and Patrick (Mr White) are hoping to adopt a baby boy. Meredith Barton (Sarah Jessica Parker) - at this moment apparently destined to be Thad's sister-in-law - proceeds from wondering if the men are afraid of transmitting their sexual orientation to asserting, even more boorishly, that no parent could ever want a child to grow up homosexual.

Like Diane Keaton's Sybil (Thad's mother), you want to kill her, if only for her tactlessness. It must be conceded that Meredith has a point. Until very recently, it is unlikely that there were many parents who were happy that their children were homosexual. They might be happy that their children had found happiness with a good partner, but what loving parent could be happy about the burdens and disadvantages that society heaps upon its misfits. The Family Stone, if nothing else, stands for the proposition that homosexuals are not misfits - period - and this is where Mr Giordano and Mr White work their magic. Their characters are so obviously not misfits. Patrick is a black man in a white home, and Thad speaks with the alien accent and intonation of the deaf, but both belong to the Family Stone as much as anyone does, to the point of not being particularly special. (A fine touch in this film is the apparent artlessness with which family members sign while they talk.) Amy (Rachel McAdams), the "mean" Stone, took "years," according to Thad, to accept Patrick, but the fact is that she has accepted him; that's over and done with.

When the movie was over, I was running over, but I had nothing to say, even to myself, about what the movie was like. It took a while to return to normal, and, when I did, I saw that The Family Stone has captured the spirit of crisis and misadventure that afflicts every family when a prospective addition is introduced during the holidays. The film is funny and tart, and it is certainly recognizable as a romantic comedy from Hollywood. But the actors who play the eight Stones, the two Bartons, and the lovelorn ex all work hard and successfully to spike the proceedings with that special terror that we experience whenever our intimate lives are ruffled. The actors look no more and no less like each other than actors usually do, but the illusion of a genuine Family Stone is very convincing. I felt like the one who heard all about it later.


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I'm so glad you enjoyed the movie! I saw it in NOLA with my parents and we all enjoyed it thoroughly. There is much tenderness in the film... something that you wouldn't expect from the trailer which leads you to believe it's a sloppy farce with a surprisingly good cast. It will definitely make it into my list of films to watch during the holidays.

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