(directed by Shari Springer Berman, & Robert Pulcini, 2011)
**** (out of 5)
> HBO did a fine job of dramatizing the compelling story of Santa Barbara’s Loud family- TV’s first reality stars in 1973, when PBS sent in a camera crew to record huge swathes of their private lives for the breakthrough series “An American Family”.
. The film transitions from archival footage of the actual people who all this happened to, to the very capable actors laying them, returning to the real family again at the very surprising and satisfying ending. It is remarkable how much James Gandolfini looked like the man he was playing. Tim Robbins was as solid as he always is. But the film belongs to Diane Lane, who is just dynamite as the matriarch of the clan who struggles to look the other way in the face of her husband’s many infidelities, while the unblinking eye of the media peers over her shoulder. Prodded by Gandolfini’s silver-tongued producer in search of high-drama to justify the millions spent on the project, she comes to the conclusion that it is time to cut him loose.
. As no one had ever been through it before, the Loud family had no idea what they were really getting into. When the 10-hour series aired it was a huge hit for Public Television and the dark underbelly of the American people was uncovered by the vitriol that followed. In the aftermath the family rebels, and goes on a media offensive to reclaim their good names.
> What a great story! So many issues raised in such an entertaining way! And I recognize that family! These suburbanites are my people.
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