The impromptu, confessional monologue central to In the Family is so engrossing — an emotional oasis in the middle of a legal deposition! — that it takes on a life of its own. Rousing with its reflections on the value of happy love and home lives, it's also Joey's (Patrick Wang) plea to his lover's relatives that he should continue to be the parent he always was to his partner's child, though he has no biological ties to the kid or even any rights to a relationship suddenly severed by a freak accident. Set in a surprisingly laissez-faire small town in Tennessee and proceeding by lengthy, sometimes disjointed flashbacks, In the Family is an object lesson in the vulnerability of gay parents who haven't gotten around to spelling out the details of property inheritance or child care. A deus ex machina arrives in the form of a retired lawyer (the wise-seeming Brian Murray) with the neat trick of not so much skirting the law as using its framework. Trevor St. John is cute and broody-mouthed as the deceased lover; Wang, the movie's writer-director, is touchingly, disarmingly open; and the kid, Sebastian Banes, adorable. If the movie sounds familiar, it's because it was released sporadically but with critical success about a year ago; it will make a nice companion piece with Alan Cumming's Any Day Now.
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