EZRA Review

As a parent, we learn that we don’t know what we are doing. We think we have read enough books or been given enough advice that parenting should be fairly simple. What we are not prepared for or taught in books is that your child is going to have a personality of their own. Your child is not a perfect example like in the books and you will be thrown back the first time you come across something you did not prepare for. A personal example is that my wife and I never thought that our son would have a seizure and the first time we experienced one we were unsure of what to do. We kept our cool and did not panic, (although we were screaming our heads off inside our minds) it was an experience that showed us we were not as prepared as we thought we were.

In EZRA, Bobby Cannavale plays Max Brandel, whose son Ezra is autistic. Being that this is Max’s only child he is still learning how to raise his son and prepare for what he will be exposed to in the world. Max is against sending Ezra to a “special” school. He is against having Ezra medicated to control his urges and outbursts. Max wants his son to be treated normal and not like something is wrong with him. In contrast to the heavy world that he lives in Max cleanses his palette of this by being a stand-up comic. In his routine Max not only talks about his life with his son but also about his own issues growing up.

Robert De Niro, Bobby Cannavale and William A. Fitzgerald in Bleecker Street’s EZRA
Credit: Bleecker Street

The heart in EZRA is Ezra himself played magnificently by William A. Fitzgerald. William is a neurodivergent actor and gives Bobby Cannavale a run for his money in the scenes they are in together. Ezra knows that his father and mother Jenna, played by Rose Byrne, want the best for him but he is trying to figure out his place in the world. Max is trying to connect with Ezra and does it in the most fun way a dad can. Seeing The Big Lebowski together in costume is one of the ways Max tries to connect with Ezra but he also feels like Ezra is his mojo, his good luck charm. It seems that Max has been on the comedy circuit for a while and is finally going to get his big break.

Here is where the movie goes on another level. After an incident, Ezra must go to a new school and Max does something a little rash. The two end up on a road trip to Los Angeles for Max’s break on Jimmy Kimmel. Along their way, they stop by Max’s friend Nick who Rainn Wilson plays. Nick is a comedy friend of Max who now runs a camp. The greatness of these stops is Ezra is getting a chance to experience things he would not back in New York. There is another stop where we see Ezra interacting with other kids near his age and how he is slowly letting down his guard. These are the moments that steal your heart and show the amazing work that Fitzgerald does in this movie.

Robert De Niro and Bobby Cannavale in Bleecker Street’s EZRA Credit: Bleecker Street

As a father, there are moments in EZRA that hit a little close to home. That feeling of not understanding why things are happening to your child. The feeling of frustration when you are scared and are trying to talk to your child but they will not listen to you. During some of these moments, we learn about the relationship between Max and his father, Stan, played by Robert DeNiro. We learn that their relationship was not always the best. It is because of this that Max wants a better life for Ezra and not repeat the relationship he had with Stan.

Watch our interview with star and director Tony Goldwyn.

Final Thoughts: As a parent, we try to do everything we can for our children, and in EZRA, we see what lines his father will cross. The movie shares the generational trauma that is passed down from father to son in the relationship between Max and his father Stan. The movie also raises the question of who has the final say in raising a child with autism: the parents or the doctors who work with them. Ezra has a lot of heart and superb acting from the cast. 

Kid-Friendly: EZRA gives kids an inside look at some of the struggles that parents go through when raising a child with autism. It also gives kids the chance to see how they can be more empathetic to these kids and help them adjust to new surroundings.

Violence: Max’s temperament is shown at the movie’s beginning after a meeting with a doctor. When we learn about the relationship between Max and his father, we learn it is not healthy. Max comes close to losing his temper with Ezra and almost hits him. In one scene Jenna points a knife at Nick stating she will do anything to find her son.

EZRA follows Max Bernal (Bobby Cannavale), a stand-up comedian living with his father (Robert De Niro), while struggling to co-parent his autistic son Ezra (introducing William Fitzgerald) with his ex-wife (Rose Byrne). When forced to confront difficult decisions about their son’s future, Max and Ezra embark on a cross-country road trip that has a transcendent impact on both their lives. Directed by Tony Goldwyn, who also appears in the film alongside additional cast members Vera Farmiga, Rainn Wilson and Whoopi Goldberg, EZRA is an endearing and often funny exploration of a family determined to find their way through life’s complexities with humor, compassion, and heart.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top