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A Family Affair (Netflix) review: Cheesy, mindless fun

Nicole Kidman, Zoey King and Zac Efron in A Family Affair

Though Netflix’s A Family Affair is littered with rom-com tropes and has a predictable ending, it’s surprisingly humorous, with a standout performance from Efron.

Director: Richard LaGravenese
Genre: Drama, Rom-Com
Run Time: 111′
Global Release: June 28, 2024
Where to watch: Netflix

In Richard LaGravenese’s rom-com A Family Affair, an unexpected relationship blossoms between Chris Cole (Zac Efron of The Iron Claw), a high-profile actor, and Brooke (Nicole Kidman of Expats), a successful writer, who is sixteen years his senior. The pair get along like a house on fire and have a strong connection, though there’s a dilemma.

Chris is the boss of Brooke’s daughter Zara (Joey King of The Kissing Booth), who is his assistant, adding a layer of complexity to the equation.

Zara spends her days pandering to Chris’ needy demands, such as rushing out to the grocery store in the middle of the night to buy him protein powder and snacks. Overall, he’s high-maintenance and a bit of a nightmare to work for. He also finds it difficult to hold down relationships, giving each girl he dates a pair of earrings whenever he ends the romance to soften the blow. When Zara finds out that her mother is dating Chris, she is absolutely mortified and disapproves of their relationship. After all, she knows his character and less-than-desirable traits. But could Brooke be the woman Chris has been looking for all along?

Stories based on age-gap relationships where a woman is the older partner are important ones to tell. They challenge preconceived, outdated cultural norms while bringing a fresh perspective to the film space. Such romances exist in real life, so it’s perplexing that they aren’t explored more on the big screen and why they still face judgment.

A Family Affair is jam-packed with rom-com tropes, unrealistic moments, and is pretty predictable from the start. However, the film’s humorous script and varying character dynamics are what bring the narrative to life and make it an enjoyable film.

Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron in A Family Affair
Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron in A Family Affair (Aaron Epstein / Netflix)

Chris is an unlikable character, but Efron is A Family Affair’s standout. He delivers a comedic performance equipped with pitch-perfect line delivery that encapsulates Chris’ demanding nature, especially when he is bossing Zara around. His pompousness feels like an intentional riff on the stereotypical pretentiousness of movie stars, and his showy attitude and obsessiveness over the most trivial details will have you in hysterics.

Alternatively, Efron flawlessly reflects Chris’ sweet, sentimental side in intimate moments with Brooke. Though they are polar opposites, Chris is drawn to the fact that Brooke doesn’t fawn over him, and she is always brutally honest with her thoughts and feelings. Kidman can do no wrong, giving a grounded performance oozing with sincerity and level-headedness. As a widow for the past eleven years, Brooke feels a bit lost and is trying to rediscover her self-identity. Questioning our purpose and having the desire to try something new and exciting is something a lot of us can relate to, especially after a life-altering event that forever changes our existence.

In contrast to the film’s romance, Zara and Chris’ back-and-forth bickering is highly entertaining, with their scenes alongside one another being a highlight. Their dynamic reflects a love-hate relationship between two individuals who have worked together for a long time and know each other inside out. Though they constantly aggravate one another, deep down, there is mutual respect. Their relationship is platonic, but they rely on each other. It’s also hilarious that Zara finds Chris’ attitude obnoxious and off-putting, while Brooke finds him totally irresistible. Plus, we also get to see Kathy Bates play a sassy, fun-loving grandma, which is a gift in itself.

Zara and Brooke’s relationship is deeper than one might expect, delving into the pressures kids can face when they have a successful parent who they don’t feel they can measure up to. Their mother-daughter bond is a joy to watch, proving that individualism and doing what makes you happy are key to personal fulfillment. This also applies when Brooke embraces her relationship with Chris. Zara may not approve of it, but with time, she realizes that she needs to accept it and allow her mother to make her own choices.

A Family Affair: Trailer (Netflix)

A Family Affair certainly doesn’t bring anything groundbreaking to the genre, veering into an idolized romance relatively quickly, though if you’re a rom-com connoisseur, you know what you’re getting yourself into.

After Chris and Brooke spend the day together, he wine and dines with her (even booking out a whole restaurant so they can enjoy a quiet meal alone), which is rather full-on for a second date. He also seems to fall in love almost instantly and becomes a completely different person when he is in her company. A Family Affair invites viewers into a lavish world and a fantastical romance that one can only dream of. Yet it’s funny, wildly entertaining, and all in good fun.

A Family Affair will be available to stream on Netflix from June 28, 2024.

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