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Netflix’s ‘A Family Affair’ Breathes Life Into an Oversaturated Genre

Netflix’s ‘A Family Affair’ Breathes Life Into an Oversaturated Genre

still from Netflix's family affair

Netflix’s newest original A Family Affair starring Joey King made waves last week, charting #1 as Netflix’s most watched title.

The film follows Zara (Joey King) as she struggles to get appreciation from her boss, shmoozy, arrogant actor Chris Cole (Zac Efron) who disregards Zara’s skills. After reaching her final breaking point, Zara leaves the job and Cole desperately wants her back. Heading to her house to find her, Cole comes across Zara’s mother and widow Brooke, (Nicole Kidman) beginning a whirlwind romance between the unlikely pair.

Still From Netflix's "A Family Affair"
A Family Affair. (L-R) Nicole Kidman as Brooke Harwood and Zac Efron as Chris Cole in A Family Affair. Cr. Aaron Epstein/Netflix © 2024

A Family Affair is a charming, lovable romantic comedy that provides a refreshing take on a genre full of carbon-copies. The main couple’s unconventional pairing, as well as the surprisingly layered plot line, make for a great watch. Though this film may not be award-winning, it is thoroughly entertaining with wonderful performances from its leading cast. 

Still From Netflix's "A Family Affair"
A Family Affair. (L-R) Joey King as Zara Ford and Nicole Kidman as Brooke Harwood in A Family Affair. Cr. Tina Rowden/Netflix © 2024

Kathy Bates appears as Zara’s grandmother and mother-in-law to Brooke, playing the lovable matriarch who isn’t afraid to put things into perspective. Bates was a highlight of the film, giving much-needed guidance to Zara as she struggled with her mother’s new romance, and encouraging her daughter-in-law to allow herself to live her life as she wants.

Although typical tropes from the romantic comedy drama do exist, like King’s Zara, a struggling, awkward young adult, or the aforementioned mother-figure, the film’s overarching plot and main couple go beyond what we typically see from this overplayed genre. 

Even if rom-coms aren’t your thing, this film isn’t necessarily a hard romance or comedy, tackling themes about motherhood, grief, acceptance and moving forward. Kidman’s Brooke is truly the character that brings this film life, grappling with loss and the stresses and selflessness of motherhood, and giving herself permission to go for the love she wants, even if it is her daughter’s boss. 

Still From Netflix's "A Family Affair"
A Family Affair. (L-R) Zac Efron as Chris Cole and Nicole Kidman as Brooke Harwood in A Family Affair. Cr. Aaron Epstein/Netflix © 2024

The film also subtly breathes life into the genre by highlighting a couple with a 16-year-age gap, and characters who are above the age typically seen in rom-coms. Without making age the entirety of the plot line, the film subverts the idea that these types of epic romances are only reserved for young people. Kidman’s character, rather than portrayed as some sort of desperate widow, is full of life, and simply wishes to add to her existing happiness by pursuing something of her own. 

Efron’s Chris Cole brought the comedy, even if the film in its entirety was mostly comedically underwhelming. There were definitely some laughs, whether from Zara freaking out at finding her mother and boss “entangled” or Chris Cole’s overall lack of self awareness. 

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Zac Efron in new Netflix rom-com
A Family Affair. Zac Efron as Chris Cole in A Family Affair. Cr. Aaron Epstein/Netflix © 2024

The film even featured influencer Liza Koshy as Zara’s best friend, who gave a surprisingly convincing performance. 

This film is above all enjoyable, with each movement of the plot drawing the viewer in further to the absolute drama that envelopes Brooke and Chris’ relationship. With lovable characters, a dynamic plot and a sweet romance, Netflix’s A Family Affair is a great new addition to Netflix’s repertoire. 

If you’re looking to itch your rom-com scratch, this film will offer you something satisfying, sweet, and a little unconventional.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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