Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne, and Robert De Niro star in this fabulously unpredictable ensemble dramedy from director Tony Goldwyn (TIFF ’10’s Conviction) about parents struggling over how best to raise their child.
Both an unpredictable family dramedy and a road movie that runs on mischief, the latest from director Tony Goldwyn (TIFF ’10’s Conviction) stars Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne, and Oscar winner Robert De Niro as three adults with wildly divergent opinions about what’s best for one precious little boy.
New Jersey stand-up Max (Cannavale) tells stories, not jokes, about ordinary chaos. And there is no better source of chaos in his life than his son, Ezra (William A. Fitzgerald). Diagnosed with autism, Ezra is precocious and precarious: he’s been reading The New York Times since he was five, but his impulsive behaviour often gets him into trouble and sometimes even poses a danger to himself and others. A doctor insists Ezra be sent to a special school and medicated. Ezra’s mom, Jenna (Byrne), who shares custody with Max, is inclined to go along with the program, but Max will have none of it. One night, Max, who has been promised a spot on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, takes Ezra on a cross-country excursion — without the permission of Jenna or his father (De Niro), whose car Max has “borrowed.”
Written by Tony Spiridakis, Ezra recalls John Cassavetes at his most light-hearted, making us fall in love with characters who say and do spectacularly wrong things. This is partly due to Goldwyn and Spiridakis’ buoyant, big-hearted storytelling, but it’s also the result of the film’s astonishing ensemble cast, which counts Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga and Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg among its ranks. We might cringe in terror at some of Max’s decisions, but we won’t have the slightest doubt about this father’s ferocious love for his son.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: coarse language