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'A Family Affair' Review: Lacking Romantic Chemistry Resulting in a Forgettable Affair

By Becca Johnson July 1, 2024
A Family Affair

Netflix rom-coms are as frequent as they are hit or miss. From greats including Set It Up and Someone Great, to misses including Your Place or Mine and Irish Wish, they seem to be pumped out quicker than we can catch up, however high they land on our rankings. Most recent is A Family Affair, which boasts a strong cast including Nicole Kidman (Eyes Wide Shut), Zac Efron (The Iron Claw) and Netflix regular Joey King (Bullet Train), and a premise that reminds us of a particular recent Prime Video release. A Family Affair unfortunately fails to impress, despite the charismatic leads. The plot is bland and unentertaining, the run-time inflated and the storyline lacks originality.


Synopsis

A surprising romance kicks off comic consequences for a young woman, her mother and her movie star boss as they face the complications of love, sex and identity.



Review

The best asset A Family Affair has to offer is its cast, who all try their best to elevate the script. On-screen gem Nicole Kidman looks glorious as ever, undertaking her role as mother, author and smitten lover Brooke Harwood with charm and grace. The script doesn’t allow her to show her range by any means, but she manages to keep things afloat. Zac Efron is no stranger to rom-coms, and his turn as famous actor Chris Cole (no, not Criston, stay calm) lives up to expectations - certainly not his best work, but passable enough. Unfortunately, the blossoming romance between Efron and Kidman is okay at best as they do lack romantic chemistry, but seeing the pair interact and converse is the most interesting element.


A Family Affair

At the heart of the story is Joey King in her role as Zara Ford, assistant of actor Chris and daughter of Brooke who has to deal with the embarrassment, and the shock, of her Mum dating her boss. If you weren’t convinced of King’s talent before viewing, this one won’t sway you, which is mainly the fault of the character rather than the performance itself - she is quite annoying. She delivers what’s expected and it’s hard to knock a performance that achieves it’s goal, it’s just a shame her character lacks the charm that King often has. The supporting cast, including Academy Award Winner Kathy Bates (Misery) and Sherry Cola (Joy Ride) are fine, but it’s criminal how underutilised they are, especially Bates.


The plot, full of traditional rom-com fare, is enough to get you initially invested but takes a long time to get going and play out fully, which is a hindrance when your storyline is as predictable as this. Uncomfortable sex walk-ins, hiding dates, angry outbursts and heartfelt conversation about love and grief make up the bulk of the run-time, and there’s certainly some sweet and charming moments in here. The main issue is predictability, as it follows a very expected pattern, with it being easy to see exactly how things will play out, even from the first act. Clocking in at almost two hours, it meanders too often and doesn’t justify this run-time that feels overlong for any rom-com, let alone a fairly bland one. It often misses the mark with the comedy as it doesn’t really have any laughs. This results in the movie fully lacking moments of levity and fun, which ultimately makes the storyline all the more drab. Lacking in both romance and LOL’s, it isn’t likely to impress fans of the genres. It will undoubtedly land in the Number One spot on Netflix’s Most Watched list in the coming days due to it’s cast, plot and digestibility, but time will tell whether it’s memorable enough to make a mark.


A Family Affair

Predictability is one thing, but delivering something very similar to something we only saw in May of this year is another. Featuring an age gap romance where an older woman dates a younger famous man, that ultimately comes to blows due to their daughters disapproval - sound familiar? Prime Original The Idea of You tackles these exact same ideas, seeing Anne Hathaway play a single mother who winds up dating a famous boyband member - from a band her daughter idolised when she was young. Granted, A Family Affair was originally meant to drop on Netflix last November so should have come first, there is no denying that out of the two, The Idea of You will likely make a bigger impact. It’s steamier, funnier, has better chemistry and has a lot more to say in terms of fame, age gaps and single motherhood. This isn’t to allude that A Family Affair is a complete failure, as the performances given are good enough and it certainly boasts occasional charm and an easy viewing, switch your brain off vibe, but the two are very likely to be compared, with most likely agreeing that Prime’s effort will come out on top.


A Family Affair is worth viewing on a rainy day or lazy weekend, especially as it can be done from the comfort of your own home. Those who enjoy the genre may find some charm within it, and fans of Efron, Kidman, King or even all three should be moderately impressed when the credits roll. Though trying its best to be fun, flirty and funny, A Family Affair lacks chemistry and comedy which stops it from being great. The pace is slow which does not compliment the bloated run-time, the characters lack depth and interest, and we’re ultimately left with a generic and dull film that has nothing to say with no memorable qualities.


Star Rating

A Family Affair rating

A Family Affair is now streaming on Netflix




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