NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) – Kathleen Turner has one of her best screen roles in years in "The Perfect Family," a comedy/drama that recently world-premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Playing a devout Catholic and suburban mom who must reconcile her beliefs with her own family's less than perfect behavior, the actress delivers a complex, sympathetic portrayal that -- unlike so many cinematic depictions of religious faith -- never condescends. Unfortunately, this debut feature by Anne Renton doesn't quite find the proper tone to convey its heartfelt message.
The opening moments immediately establish Eileen Cleary (Turner) as a mainstay at her local parish and a particular favorite of Monsignor Murphy (Richard Chamberlain), who informs her that she's the front runner for the "Catholic Woman of the Year" award. Unfortunately, he's also nominated Eileen's arch rival, Agnes Dunn (Sharon Lawrence), who will clearly go to any ends to snare the coveted prize.
Among the qualifications for the title is a family life that conforms to traditional Catholic beliefs, but Eileen's comes up a bit short on that count. Her firefighter husband Frank (Michael McGrady) is a recovering alcoholic; her lesbian daughter Shannon (Emily Deschanel) is about to have a baby with her longtime partner Angela (Angelique Cabral); and her son Frank Jr. (Jason Ritter) has recently left his wife and is romantically involved with an older woman.
At first, the film seems to be aiming for dark satire, perhaps something on the order of "Serial Mom," Turner's collaboration with John Waters. The notion is reinforced by the casting of Chamberlain, who famously played the randy priest in TV's "The Thorn Birds," and by the suggestion that Eileen's competition with Agnes may lapse into extremes.