The Family

The Family Information

The Family, also known as Malavita, is a 2013 English-language French crime comedy film co-written by Tonino Benacquista and directed by Luc Besson, starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones. The film follows a mafia family under the witness protection program that want to change their lives. The film is based on the novel Malavita (Badfellas for 2010 English translation) by Tonino Benacquista. The film was initially set to be released by Relativity Media for October 18, 2013. According to Box Office Mojo, the film's release date had been changed to September 20, 2013. The film's release date was revised for a third time to September 13, 2013.


Six years ago, mafia boss Giovanni Maznoni (Robert DeNiro) was believed to have performed some unspecified negative activity to a Don Luchese, a crime kingpin in the Brooklyn community. After a failed hit attempt against him and his family at a barbecue, he snitches on the Don Luchese (sending him to prison, where his influence allows him to live well) and enters the witness protection program under the supervision of FBI Agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones). The family is once again re-locating to a small town near Normandy after their mafia tendencies alert the kingpin to their location.

As the family adjusts to life in the small city, each family member breaks off into their own stories occurring in parallel. Giovanni runs into trouble when he claims to be a history author writing a novel on the Normandy landings, which is problematic as many citizens in the area are much more familiar with the event than himself. He also begins a quest to track down why the water in his house is brown, becoming irritated when no one he talks to will take responsibility. He beats a plumber who tries to shake him down and a local fertilizer factory owner who interrupts him while talking.

Daughter Belle (Dianna Agron) falls in love with a college student who is substitute teaching a math class. She fakes needing math lessons in order to start a relationship with him, which he rebuffs, but they eventually have sex. Wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) blows up a small grocery store when its owner spews stereotypical American comments. She spends a lot of time at a church, and she and the local priest have a good relationship. This ends when she confesses the numerous sins her family committed, and he tells her never to come back. Son Warren (John D'Leo) develops intel on his local school. On the first day, he is beaten up by a small gang, but uses his intel to buy favor with most of the school's influential students, creating a mini-mafia within the school. He uses this sway to beat up the gang. He inadvertently alerts Don Luchese to their location when he quotes one of the kingpin's sayings in a school paper that makes its way back to Don Luchese through a series of strange events.

The family's individual storylines come to a conclusion as a team of nine hitmen enter the town; the team kills the local police and firemen. Warren decides to leave town with fake passports after the school detects his activities, afraid that the FBI will drop the family's protection. He returns to the house after seeing the hitmen leaving the train he was about to board. Belle decides to commit suicide after the college student rejects her, but stops when she sees the hitmen team entering the police station. Giovanni is asked to attend an American film event due to his supposed historical expertise; he brings Agent Stansfield along, claiming to want to bond with him, but in reality it's an alibi for a timed explosive he has rigged that will destroy the structure causing his brown water. The film screening takes an unexpected turn when they instead watch Goodfellas. Throughout the film, Giovanni has expressed a wish to tell his story as a mobster (seemingly expressing some guilt, though he always claims this is untrue), and the debate after the film triggers him to do so. Feeling his cover has been compromised, Agent Stansfield gives the order to relocate the family again.

As Giovanni returns home, Maggie (outside the house) notices the 5-man hitman team (the others blocking key locations in town) and takes cover in the FBI safehouse across the street. The hitmen blow up the house with an explosive, and a gunfight ensues which involves all family members. Giovanni and Maggie strangle and stab hitman "Fat Willy" after he raids the safehouse. Warren shoots two of the hitmen while being given cover fire by Belle. One hitman is killed by the family dog, who he was preparing to shoot due to the no witnesses order. The lead hitman is hit by Stansfield's car while chasing Belle.

The film concludes with the family relocating again. For the first time in the film, Giovanni expresses he is happy due having the chance to tell his story and due to the family being brought closer.


  • Robert De Niro as Fred Blake/Giovanni Manzoni, the father.
  • Michelle Pfeiffer as Maggie Blake, the mother.
  • Dianna Agron as Belle Blake, the daughter.
  • John D'Leo as Warren Blake, the son.
  • Tommy Lee Jones as Robert Stansfield, the FBI agent.
  • Jimmy Palumbo as Di Cicco
  • Domenick Lombardozzi as Caputo.
  • Stan Carp as Don Luchese
  • Vincent Pastore as Fat Willy
  • Jon Freda as Rocco
  • Michael J. Panichelli Jr. as Billy the Bug
  • Paul Borghese as Albert
  • Anthony Desio as Bernie
  • Ted Arcidi as Tommy
  • David Belle as Mezzo


Principal photography began August 8, 2012 and completed on October 27, 2012. Filming took place on location in Normandy, Gacé, Le Sap, and in New York City. Some of the filming also took place in the city of L'Aigle. It was one of the first films to be shot in Cité du Cinéma, the largest film studio facility ever built in Saint-Denis in France, founded by Luc Besson. In May 2013, it was revealed that the film, originally titled Malavita, would be retitled The Family in the United States, while other territories such as France retain the Malavita title.


In June 2012, it was confirmed that Michelle Pfeiffer will be joining the cast of The Family. Before casting the movie, Besson states that author Tonino Benacquista said "[I]t would be so perfect if Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer played the roles." "It was like a dream." said Besson. Besson always thought of Dianna Agron while writing the character Belle Blake. Despite this, Agron had to attend multiple auditions. Agron later won the part. All the cast and crew of Glee supported Dianna's departure from the show to be part of the film. A dog named Emeron was chosen to be Malavita, the canine pet of the main family, who follows De Niro's character everywhere he goes. Emeron was trained by a specialist, and De Niro was the only person, besides the dog trainer, to spend time with him during the workout.


Part of the filming locations were Normandy, France; Paris, France; and New York, New York, USA.



The Family (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) will be released on September 13, 2013, the same day of the film's premiere. It includes original compositions by Evgueni Galperine and Sacha Galperine.


The film was released by Relativity Media on September 13, 2013. The Motion Picture Association of America gave the film an R rating for violence, language and brief sexuality. The first trailer of The Family was released on June 4, 2013. For France, the first trailer for Malavita was released in mid-July 2013. In August, some TV spots were released to promote the film.

Critical response

The Family has received mixed to negative reviews from critics, as it currently holds a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 81 reviews and a averange rating of 4.8/10, with the consensus: "It's fitfully funny and impeccably cast, but Luc Besson's The Family suffers from an overly familiar setup and a number of jarring tonal shifts." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 46 based on 26 reviews.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky from The A.V. Club gave the film a B-, and said: "Besson creates the impression that The Family is set in a world drawn from gangster movies and comic strips"?an idea that culminates in De Niro participating, as the town's token American, in a film club discussion of a certain Martin Scorsese movie." Stephanie Merry from The Washington Post gave the film the film one out of four stars, calling it: "There's little to laugh about in dark comedy 'The Family'." Time Out's critic, Nick Schager, gave the film one out of five stars, sayin that film director Luc Besson "treats his protagonists as likable cartoons yet never provides a single reason to view them as anything less than remorseless, repugnant psychos." MSN Entertainment gave the film three out of five stars, saying: "Sharper, smarter and slicker than it looks, there's a lot to like about "The Family."

Linda Barnard from Toronto Star gave the film two out of four stars, saying: "While Besson knows his way around an action film, he's not as adept at comedy. The result is an often-violent, occasionally amusing fish-out-of-eau tale that plunks a family of wise guys in the French countryside with predictable results." Mack Rawden from Cinema Blend gave the film three out of five stars, saying: "It uses irregular De Niro voiceovers on occasion. It reads segments of a book on occasion. It even uses bad dreams and flashbacks, all of which, when used together, make the film seem disorganized and poorly put together. All of that, coupled with more than a few jokes that fall flat and a plot that's windy and strangely paced keep The Family from being anything more than a likeable enough way to spend an hour and forty-five minutes."

Box office

The Family debuted at #2 in its first weekend with $14.5 million, coming in behind Insidious: Chapter 2, which made $41 million in its opening weekend.

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