Film Review: EZRA (2023): Tony Goldwyn’s Moving Dramatic Picture Offers Audiences Plenty of Fine Acting SuperNayr

William A Fitzgerald Bobby Cannavale Ezra

Ezra Review

Ezra (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Tony Goldwyn, written by Tony Spiridakis and starring Bobby Cannavale, Robert De Niro, William A. Fitzgerald, Rose Byrne, Vera Farmiga, Whoopi Goldberg, Rainn Wilson, Tony Goldwyn, Tess Goldwyn, Matilda Lawler, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Geoffrey Owens, David Marciano, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Lois Robbins, Jackson Frazer, Joe Pacheco and Greer Barnes.

Director Tony Goldwyn’s new film, Ezra, has a lot of heart but It may also frustrate viewers because of the complexity of the film’s story line. The movie is driven by a lead performance from Bobby Cannavale which could be the actor’s finest screen work to date. He is more than properly supported by the likes of the great Robert De Niro, Rose Byrne and, in a smaller role, Vera Farmiga. This picture is always on-point with believable plot developments until it reaches a conclusion that feels a bit too sentimental to be entirely plausible.

Cannavale plays a stand-up comic named Max who has an autistic son, Ezra (William A. Fitzgerald). Max’s ex-wife, Jenna (Byrne) delays a report to the police when Max decides to help Ezra sneak out of Jenna’s house. There is a restraining order against Max due to a prior incident. When Max finds out his manager, Jayne (Whoopi Goldberg, good in a glorified cameo), has secured him an appearance with Jimmy Kimmel, Max takes Ezra on the road to get to his appointment. Eventually, Jenna is unable to get the answers she seeks from either Max or Max’s dad, Stan (De Niro) and she lets the police in on the matter. An AMBER Alert is soon released, and Max must keep a low-profile in order to make it to Kimmel’s show safely with Ezra.

Ezra doesn’t sugarcoat Max’s emotional difficulties and Cannavale creates a multi-faceted character all throughout Goldwyn’s ambitious new picture. We understand that Max loves his son and that he doesn’t see the relationship he has with Ezra as dysfunctional. Ezra is a good kid but has tendencies to overreact to things because of his autism. Fitzgerald, the actor cast as Ezra, is also on the spectrum which makes the performance Fitzgerald turns in a rather notable accomplishment. The scenes between Ezra and Max are effective and emotional. The problem lies with the unpredictable tendencies of the character, Max, who is too impulsive and doesn’t think through the consequences of his actions. Cannavale digs deep inside his character to try to let the audience in on why Max essentially kidnaps Ezra. Cannavale is simply phenomenal in creating the subtext for his character.

Robert De Niro is amazing and delivers a heartfelt performance as Stan. This character De Niro plays has left his old job to become a doorman at an apartment building and has done this to help open up opportunities for him to be a better grandfather. There is a scene set in a diner late in the film where De Niro is emotionally brilliant as Stan explains to Max that he understands the actions Max has taken and sees the validity of the choices Max has made. This is one of the best dramatic scenes that De Niro has performed since Silver Linings Playbook. While De Niro acted up a storm in Killers of the Flower Moon, the range and sensitivity De Niro shows in Goldwyn’s new film is quite impressive.

There are moments in the mid-section of the picture where Max takes Ezra to a camp where a friend named Nick (Rainn Wilson) resides. These moments drag and feel like time-filler. Eventually, Vera Farmiga’s character, Grace, enters the movie and Cannavale and Farmiga share some tender moments together as she helps him try to get to his final destination with Ezra. Rose Byrne is also very effective as the mother who loves her son dearly and will protect him at any cost. Stan and Jenna eventually hit the road to find Max and Ezra and the results of that search will surprise and intrigue viewers.

All the sequences of Ezra culminate in a haphazard series of scenes that don’t really work as well as they could have. Still, the movie’s heart is in the right place. You have to admire the dramatic tension the film builds up and the performance by Cannavale really helps heighten the movie’s intensity. There are a number of scenes in which audiences won’t be able to guess where, exactly, they’re headed. Ezra surprises with its plot developments more often than was expected although a mid-end credits scene seems tacked on for comic relief.

Ezra is a movie that could remind one of Rain Main in terms of its heavy themes and use of an autistic character. Ezra isn’t on the same level as that 1988 masterpiece. However, thanks to Tony Goldwyn’s competent direction, the new movie moves along at a fast pace and with acting like Cannavale’s and De Niro’s, adult-themed dramatic films are back in full force again.

Rating: 7.5/10

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