“A Family Affair”: A Heartwarming Movie Review for All Ages

The latest Netflix rom-com, A Family Affair, is now streaming, but should you watch it? Bringing together a trio of high-profile stars, A Family Affair takes on many complications in the arena of love, relationships, and familial dynamics. The film stars Oscar and Emmy winner Nicole Kidman, her former co-star from 2012’s The Paperboy, Zac Efron, and Netflix YA Rom-Com Queen Joey King. Kidman and Efron are also no strangers to Netflix films, with Kidman starring in The Prom and Efron in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.

Directed by Richard LaGravenese (Freedom Writers, P.S. I Love You), the story unfolds through the life of 24-year-old Hollywood assistant Zara Ford (King). Zara is struggling under the constant demands, pressures, and selfishness of her boss, franchise movie star heartthrob Chris Cole (Efron). Tired of the hours, the mistreatment, and the lack of career advancement, Zara finally decides to quit her job and move on. Realizing his mistakes, Chris drives to Zara’s house to plead for forgiveness and ask for her to return. However, when he arrives, the only person home is Zara’s mother, Brooke Harwood (Kidman), an accomplished author and widowed mother.

A Surprising Connection

Passing the time before Zara returns, Chris and Brooke connect over tequila, tales of their tragic pasts, and some light Greek mythology on their way to an intimate conclusion. When Zara arrives home and catches them in the act, she instructs the couple to not see each other again. Ignoring her wishes, Chris and Brooke continue their romance in secret just as Zara takes on a new role as Associate Producer on Chris’ latest franchise blockbuster.

Three Characters, Three Coming-of-Age Stories

While the marketing for the film focuses on its comedic and salacious aspects, director Richard LaGravenese described the film as “a coming-of-age story for three different characters at three different stages in their lives.” While it does have some rom-com hallmarks that work well at times, A Family Affair ultimately succeeds more on the strength of its characters’ growth and the vulnerability, heart, and warmth that develops throughout the movie.

A Family Affair
A Family Affair

The Power of Selflessness

Overcoming selfish behavior is a significant theme in the film, and the selflessness of its actors helps bring this to life. Having three notable performers could easily lead to a battle of egos, but not this time. Nicole Kidman feels the most subdued and human she’s been in a while, and her chemistry with Zac Efron’s boyish charm creates a believable relationship. The supporting cast also plays a crucial role in elevating the film beyond its rom-com marketing.

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Kathy Bates Steals the Show

Another notable Oscar winner, Kathy Bates, shines as Leila, the grandmother to Zara and mother-in-law and literary editor to Brooke. Bates provides maternal love and feminine wisdom, serving as a calming influence to the more erratic Zara. Her character adds warmth, laughs, and a delicate touch to the story, helping to balance the more over-the-top moments.

Supporting Cast Brings Balance

Solid supporting efforts from Sherry Cola as Zara’s writer friend Stella and Liza Koshy as Zara’s best friend Eugenie help hold a mirror up to Zara at key times later in the story. Their performances help ground the film and provide necessary counterpoints to the main characters’ journeys.

A Family Affair
A Family Affair

A Heartfelt Rom-Com

Overall, A Family Affair is more than its exaggerated rom-com marketing thanks to a cast and crew who cared enough for its story and characters. Kidman and Efron work surprisingly well as a pair with romantic chemistry and a tinge of maternal love. Joey King plays a multifaceted role, showcasing her range from immature youth to guiding producer. Kathy Bates delivers exactly what the film needs every time she appears. While the film may struggle at times with its comedic and sexy elements, it ultimately stands out for its warm look at life and love at different stages.

Watch A Family Affair If You Like:

  • Something’s Gotta Give
  • The Idea of You
  • How Stella Got Her Groove Back
  • Sex and the City

MVP of A Family Affair: Kathy Bates as Leila Ford

Turning 76 on the day of the film’s release, Kathy Bates has shown us many sides and many characters in her storied career. From her breakout Oscar-winning role in Misery to her Emmy-winning TV career, Bates has built a reputation for being the ultimate character actor. With her role as Leila Ford, she steps away from her current roles and builds on her more wise and fun role in Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. Bates creates an experienced woman with confidence, wisdom, and maternal warmth, helping the main female characters navigate their complications.

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A Family Affair may appear as just another rom-com, but it offers a deeper, more heartfelt story of growth, love, and selflessness. With strong performances from Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, Joey King, and the standout Kathy Bates, the film is a warm and engaging watch that transcends its genre trappings.


1. Is A Family Affair worth watching?

Yes, A Family Affair is worth watching for its heartfelt story, strong performances, and the chemistry between its lead actors.

2. What is the main theme of A Family Affair?

The main theme of the film is overcoming selfish behavior and the importance of selflessness in relationships and personal growth.

3. Who steals the show in A Family Affair?

Kathy Bates steals the show with her performance as Leila Ford, providing warmth, wisdom, and a delicate touch to the story.

4. How is the chemistry between Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron?

Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron have surprising romantic chemistry, creating a believable relationship that adds depth to the film.

5. What makes A Family Affair different from other rom-coms?

A Family Affair stands out from other rom-coms with its focus on character growth, heartfelt story, and the strong performances of its cast.

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