The Perfect Family (2011)

The Perfect Family
Director: Anne Renton
Writer: Paula Goldberg, Claire V. Riley
Cast: Kathleen Turner, Emily Deschanel, Jason RitterMichael McGrady, Elizabeth PeñaSharon Lawrence, Scott Michael Campbell, Richard Chamberlain
Part of: identities Festival

Eileen (Kathleen Turner) is overjoyed when Monsignor Murphy (Richard Chamberlain) tells her that he wants to nominate her for Catholic Woman of the Year. Not only because this would be a huge honor in its own right, but it also comes with a prayer of absolution – something Eileen hungers for. To get the award, though, she needs to present her perfect family – only that her husband Frank (Michael McGrady) is a recovering alcoholic, her son Frank Jr. (Jason Ritter) has just left his wife and her daughter Shannon (Emily Deschanel) finally came out to her and also announces that she’s having a child with her girlfriend Christina (Elizabeth Peña).

The Perfect Family was a whole lot of fun. Even though it’s all kinds of predictable, it’s also sweet and Kathleen Turner is just the perfect charismatic center for this film. Also, everything that ribs the catholic church like this gets brownie points from me.


Since I saw this film at a Queer Film Festival, I thought that the entire thing would revolve more around Shannon’s part in the story, the coming out, the baby etc. But actually, it’s just one of the facets around Eileen that force her to re-examine her life and her values and her choices. And since Eileen is a great character, I didn’t mind that one bit.

Kathleen Turner has such an amazing presence on screen and the movie really uses that to its advantage. It’s all kinds of obvious why Eileen would be so dominant in the family that practically everybody ends up doing what she asks of them. But at the same time, the movie manages to strike the balance and show her good side, so that you don’t keep wondering why the family is still with her.


The film is just really funny. (My favorite line: “I don’t have to think, I’m catholic!”) But while it was fun it didn’t forget that Eileen was actually going through a rather painful process and it did make me cry a bit as well.

And just to make sure that I have nothing to complain about, they gave the film a very nice soundtrack, too. What more could you wish for?


Summarising: Yes. More films like it, please.

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