Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester is the wayward 24-year-old daughter whose homecoming throws two neighbouring families into turmoil in bittersweet comedy-drama The Oranges.

Middle-aged fathers Hugh Laurie and Oliver Platt are best pals and their wives (Catherine Keener and Allison Janney) and children have led cosily intertwined lives for years. Everything gets exceedingly messy, though, when Meester’s prodigal daughter Nina returns to suburban New Jersey for Thanksgiving and begins an affair with Laurie’s glum David. With this devastating emotional hand grenade thrown into their midst, the families inevitably explode.

Before the dust finally settles, British director Julian Farino (an Entourage veteran) wrings deft comedy from the situation – including the sight of Janney’s Cathy (Nina’s mum) throwing up into a bush on coming across the scandalous pair. It all gets a little too farcical at the end as Keener’s Paige ploughs her car through the families’ kitschy Christmas lawn decorations, but the excellent performances keep the story grounded. Refreshingly, the film’s overall mood is good-natured, even-handed and surprisingly non-judgemental, although some viewers may wish for more satirical bite.

Released on DVD & Digital Download by Paramount Home Entertainment on Monday 29th April.

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