The Family (15) ***

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The family that slays together stays together - with a degree of reluctance – in Luc Besson’s twisted black comedy based on a book by Tonino Benacquista.

Punctuated by scenes of cartoonish violence, including an explosive bout of supermarket rage, The Family razes one sleepy corner of Normandy in its ham-fisted pursuit of big bangs and laughs.

John D'Leo, Michelle Pfeiffer and Dianna Agron in The Family.

John D'Leo, Michelle Pfeiffer and Dianna Agron in The Family.

It’s a far, desperate cry from the propulsive energy and intense emotions of Besson’s hit man thriller, Leon.

The family in question comprises Fred (Robert De Niro), his long-suffering wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their two children, Belle and Warren.

Oscar winners De Niro and Jones have seen better days, and will again. Both go through the motions with a weariness that suggests their minds are elsewhere, while Pfeiffer’s hot-headed matriarch has just one discernible quality: wizardry with pasta in the kitchen.

Considering the film is set in a region famous for its gastronomic specialities, her glory days of tossing al dente penne in fresh tomato sauce are surely numbered.