One of the things that we learn as parents is that our parents are real people too. Real people make mistakes, they get it wrong, and they mess things up, all the time - but we love them anyway. Love makes us vulnerable. When you love someone all your soft spots are exposed, making yourself susceptible to experiencing joy and pain (sometimes at the same time). Loving someone does not mean that your feelings will never be hurt or that you will like the other person all the time. It doesn't matter if its your mother, father, sister, brother, or child - love means saying your sorry (a lot). If this is a possibility in a healthy family unit, imagine what it must be like to have a father who could go from calm to enraged within seconds. That's what it's like to be a member of the Fine family.
When Joe Fine (Chazz Palminteri) moved his family from Brooklyn to New Orleans, he had big things planned. They would live in an amazing house, have incredible adventures, and love one another - like a fine family should. What Joe didn't recognize was that his anger control issues were a problem; a problem that would destroy his family, his life, and his dreams.
Mighty Fine is a heartwrenching movie. When the film began their lives appeared normal, there were a few red flag moments, but nothing major. See Joe Fine didn't just want to be a good husband and father, he wanted to be the best. He wanted to give his wife (Andie MacDowell) and daughters (Jodelle Ferland and Rainey Qualley) the finest things that life had to offer, but the one thing he couldn't do was protect them from himself.
Mighty Fine gives mental illness a new face. Mental illness does not just affect the life of the afflicted, but it can impair the lives of entire families, friends, co-workers, and whole communities. In Joe's case, his mental illness looked like abuse and that's exactly what it felt like to his family. Most of the time abusers suffer from mental illness, which often goes unrecognized and untreated.
The writer/director of the film, Debbie Goodstein drew from her own childhood experiences with her own father who had issues with anger. She recognizes that part of what fueled Joe Fine was the time period in which he existed (70's), " Joe Fine is the king of his castle, like so many men of the seventies."
The actors are amazing. Chazz Palminteri is incredibly believable. We were able to chat with him after the screening and I was surprised to hear that he did not draw from any personal experience for this role, in fact he said he had a great childhood. Like many women in abusive situations, Andie MacDowell's character was obviously conflicted, torn between loving her husband and protecting her children. The eldest daughter, Maddie (Rainey Qualley) recognized her father's behavior for what it was and she was brave enough to speak up about it. While the youngest daughter, Natalie (Jodelle Ferland), quietly observes as her family unit crumbles all around her.
While the subject matter of this movie is heavy, I still found it entertaining. I think it's important to bring awareness to mental illness and abuse. So many times people suffer in silence, feeling as if there is nobody else going through what they're going through. It is my hope that Mighty Fine will help others to find their voice.
Here's a trailer for your viewing pleasure:
Mighty Fine opens in select theaters on May 25th. Click here to find a theater near you.
I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Mighty Fine and the distributor. I received access to an online showing of the film and a promotional item to thank me for participating. All views expressed are the opinion of Just Say I Told You So.