THE MAGNIFICENT MEYERSONS
Directed by: Evan Oppenheimer
Written by: Evan Oppenheimer
Featuring: Richard Kind, Kate Mulgrew, Ian Kahn, Jackie Burns, Daniel Eric Gold, Shoshannah Stern, Barbara Barrie, Lauren Ridloff, Melissa Errico, Neal Huff, Andrew Hovelson
Drama. Run Time: Approx. 88 Minutes.
Watch the Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=po7g1_fedto
Written and directed by Evan Oppenheimer. Produced by Evan Oppenheimer and Edward Schmidt. Co-producers are Nerenda Eid and Carina Rush. Director of Photography Derek McKane. Casting by Judy Hendersen CSA. Editor Evan B. Wood. Music by Daniel McCormack.
A New York family go about their daily routines whilst questioning their lives, faith and beliefs alongside discussing those things that preoccupy us all in any twenty-four-hour period. Overshadowing all these conversations are two big, unexpected events, that change the Meyerson’s lives forever.
The Magnificent Meyersons is a film that investigates family relationships, with parents, siblings and in-laws, how it affects belief, work and how we view others. As such this project is clearly an actors delight, with a few interior locations most of the settings are the characters walking from one New York location to another so clearly the dialogue and how the actor delivers it and how they work off their fellow actor is what the films lives or dies on. This either brings the writing and story to life or buries it prematurely. Overall, I would say Evan Oppienhiemer’s script and directing hits the target more that it misses.
No matter how great the writing or directing is there are always going to be missteps or points that perhaps do not quite click into place but likewise there will be scenes where the actors do mesh and very much hold your attention. With The Magnificent Meyersons mostly I was happy to watch the prattling about everyday things, both abstract and very real to them. It felt real with Daphne, played by Jackie Burns, relationship with her husband, Emory (Andrew Hovelson) coming across as fluid and natural and likewise Daniel (Daniel Eric Gold) the rabbinical student having playful and intellectual conversations with his priest and female friends never felt forced or odd.
Other vignettes pop in and out, with great chemistry shown between Kate Mulgrew as the paediatric oncologist mother and Barbara Barrie as the family matriarch Celeste, I could have watched another hour of Barrie easily, it seemed effortless for her. Basically, we are shown the everyday conversations and worries surrounding the family and friends on what is a momentous day for two unforeseen reasons.
Without ruining the story, it is difficult to outline the drivers for the film but it is fair to say one completely blindsides you and is original and interesting from both a watching point of view and an intellectual one as well. You will ask what you would say or do in real life if this happened. This incident is what changes points of view. Here lies my personal problem with The Magnificent Meyersons it is not obvious that the ‘event’ affects the characters to such an extent that it changes everything. Does it instigate the other big event in the film? I could not tell. Perhaps it was too subtle for me or I was not paying attention and missed something, but I felt that the ending of the story was not in any way a result of the ‘event’. I think it was meant to be.
Apart from some the dialogue being more natural than other parts, making the film feel uneven at times, my biggest complaint, if any, was that the MacGuffin, for want of better word, was not presented to the audience as such a big event within the world of the film that it could be. In some respects budget restraints probably paid a part and I respect Oppienheimer felt the need to keep everything small, focussed entirely on a handful of characters, looking through a microscope, rather than a telescope.
Richard Kind, a familiar face to anyone who has watched a US film or TV show over the last few decades, puts in sterling work as the father, although I feel he was giving some of the weaker dialogue and within the story something about his mental illness and what happened to him did not ring true but nevertheless he gives it a decent fist and the sections with ‘Morty’ just about hold up.
The Magnificent Meyersons is a drama that involves flashbacks, some uneven dialogue and scenes that seems to fumble a great dramatic premise and ends with an unresolved sigh rather than a dramatic bang. There is some interesting and well written dialogue, sprinkled with some that almost seems written by someone else, but overall, the story and characters held my interest throughout the running time.
The story has an interesting premise, that is written, directed and acted to a high standard, but it is a real curate’s egg, which I realise can be applied to a lot of films. It felt to me that with a touch more polishing this rough diamond could have been a beautiful gem. The thought and effort was there.
It will be interesting to see what Evan Oppenheimer produces next, his output in the future could be very interesting and on this showing it will not be run-of-the-mill.
The Magnificent Meyerson premiers in New York City August 20 at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan; and Los Angeles August 27 at the Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino.