Director: Raymond De Felitta
Winner of the Audience Award at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, director Raymond De Felitta found inspiration within his own family tree for this sweetly earnest romantic drama about a dreamer and an outsider who fall in love in 1950’s Staten Island. Michael Rispoli is excellent as Buddy Visalo, an aspiring businessman who, after being denied his big break to become a singing sensation when he was discovered in World War II, eagerly tries and fails at several ventures within his Italian community. As the movie gets going, Buddy buys a large rundown two family house with the intention of turning the lower level into a bar, much to the dismay of his wife (Katherine Narducci) who is resistant to change and secretly hopes Buddy will fail. However, when the two move in, they soon discover that they have squatters in the form of unhappily married Irish immigrants-- an aging alcoholic and his beautiful, much younger wife Mary (Kelly Macdonald)-- who have taken residence of the upstairs with no intention of leaving as Mary is nine months pregnant. Once the husband abandons Mary after her baby is born half African-American, Buddy falls prey to both the prejudices of his community and familial pressures, forcing the mother and her newborn out of his home, only to have his conscience get the better of him as he realizes an attraction to what he sees as a fellow outsider and risk-taker in Mary. A beautifully, touching, sensitive and tender film, Two Family House is filled with the overwhelmingly positive messages of acceptance and standing up for what is right even when the majority is against you and it’s a true gem of a romantic indie. The warm performances of both Rispoli and the wonderful up-and-comer from the UK, Kelly Macdonald help add to director De Felitta’s intention of making viewers feel like temporary residents of the film’s community and he heightens his story with an enjoyable soundtrack of 50’s era crooning classics.