Movie Review: EZRA – Bleeker Street’s Family Drama Has Remarkable Performances

Synopsis from IMDb: Comedian Max co-parents autistic son Ezra with ex-wife Jenna. Faced with crucial decisions about Ezra’s future, Max and Ezra go on a life-changing cross-country road trip.

This synopsis is brief and only relays what is needed. Once I learned that Bobby Cannavale was in the lead as Ezra’s father, I highly anticipated viewing the film. For over 20 years, I have seen this actor in many productions, portraying many characters, and even if the roles were minor, he played them effectively and memorably. I don’t initially recall viewing him in the role of a parent, especially to an autistic child, and he does so very well, even if the choices he makes are not the best, even with good intentions. Some of this may make some viewers want to turn away from watching the film, but I do not suggest that. This movie is a family drama and a version of what one family is going through – among many stories that can be told of families with family members who have autism. The adult performances are all fantastic from veteran actors, but the debut performance by William Fitzgerald as young Ezra is undoubtedly one not to miss.

Ezra had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2023. At the Boulder International Film Festival (2024), it won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Film. At the Sun Valley Film Festival (2024), it was the Audience Award Feature Film winner, and Bobby Cannavale won Best Performance in a Film.

Ezra is directed by Tony Goldwyn (“Scandal” TV series, among many others, and is also an actor) and is written by Tony Spiridakis (“The Heights” TV series). Ezra (William Fitzgerald) is the 11-year-old autistic son of Max Bernal (Bobby Cannavale) and Jenna (Rose Byrne), from whom he is currently separated. Max is still very much in love with Jenna, but she has a lawyer boyfriend, Bruce (Tony Goldwyn), and is moving forward with her life. They continue to act as a family regarding Ezra, but they are not on the same page about his educational institutions, medications, and more. Ezra appears caught in the middle, but when he hears Bruce tell Jenna something about Max, the child takes an unexpected action.

Max is a stand-up comedian who is living with his father, Stan (Robert De Niro), while separated from Jenna. They have challenges living together, as he does not entirely understand Max’s ideas yet supports him and his grandson. Having De Niro in the film as the grandfather is excellent, and his performance is outstanding, as usual, without being overplayed or center stage. While the adults spend most of the time arguing or discussing how to parent Ezra, the audience learns about his personality, how many quotes from movies he uses to communicate, and some things he does not want to use or do. Fitzgerald is an incredible actor in his debut and one to watch again.

Cast: also includes Vera Farmiga, Whoopi Goldberg, Rainn Wilson, and others

The film is in theatres nationwide (several in the Austin area) on Friday, May 31.

Source: Bleecker Street

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