Friday, May 6, 2016

In the Projection Booth with Kevin Wilson, Author of The Family Fang

Wilson  at the Sewanee Union Theatre
We don’t get to choose who are parents are - but we love them anyway...right? The Family Fang is a bittersweet film based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Kevin Wilson, professor of English at The University of the South based in Sewanee, TN.

Wilson was kind enough grant me an interview in the projection booth of the Sewanee Union Theatre, where the film premiered (outside of New York) on Monday, May 2. It is now playing nationwide! We discuss the unusual journey of Fang's adaptation from page to screen, family issues, and the joy and challenges of being a successful writer.

Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman star as Annie and Baxter Fang, two adults who are dogged by the dubious fame of being part of their eccentric actor parents’ bizarre art displays and impromptu public stunts when they were young children. When Baxter gets badly injured by a potato gun – don’t ask, just watch – the whole family is brought together and old wounds reopened, causing the elder Fangs to stalk off. Annie and Baxter figure they’ll cool down, but when the police come knocking at their door, the question remains – is it another elaborate hoax, or is it the real thing?

Both the book and the film bring up important questions about family dynamics and the challenges of parents to see their children as their own independent entities, rather than as carbon copies of themselves. Christopher Walken plays Caleb Fang, the eccentric and tyrannical actor father who finds that his artistic endeavors don't have the same appeal after his children grow up and are no longer involved. In the novel, Caleb sees his children as only a means to an end, being downright ferocious at times, but Walken makes him more accessible by bearing a little less "fang," while still staying true to the spirit of the character. Maryann Plunket plays the long-suffering Camille Fang, whose wide, deer-in-the-headlights eyes give the impression of someone whose gotten herself on a lifetime roller coaster that she cannot ever get off of - the perfect submissive counterpart to Caleb.


Jackaroo, the guest Critic Kitteh sezs: What gives "Fang" its true bite in both written and screen form is that it does not shy away from the darker aspects of family life, but rather depicts them through a lens of compassion.