Film & TV

"The Perfect Family" Never Synthesizes Into Something Believable

Eileen (Kathleen Turner) is consumed by the Catholic Church and its doctrine — so much so that her nonstop charitable work for the church leads to her priest (Richard Chamberlain) nominating her for Catholic Woman of the Year, pitting her against childhood rival Agnes (Sharon Lawrence). What the good father doesn't know is that Eileen's son is an adulterer, her daughter is a pregnant lesbian living with her partner, and Eileen's own marriage is a sham. The script, cowritten by Claire V. Riley and Paula Goldberg, oscillates between Lifetime-channel melodrama, lazy barbs, and facile irony (the song "It's a Perfect Day" playing on the car radio). It never synthesizes into something whole or believable. That's unfortunate, because there are moments when Turner telegraphs a palpable sadness and anguish beneath Eileen's rigid morality (including homophobia) that makes you wish she and her character were in a smarter film.

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Ernest Hardy is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group and its film partner, the Village Voice. VMG publications include LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.