An American Rhapsody (2001)


The movie is actually very tense in the beginning as we start in black and white bringing the feel of “Schindler’s List” as we watch the young couple attempting to escape the country of Hungary. I love the emphasis on each of the characters; Tony Goldwyn is great and has great chemistry with Nastassja Kinski. We then go to color where we see the two attempting to adjust to fifties American suburban life, and they slowly do. When they get their daughter Suzanne back, it’s all the more interesting, because she not only must adjust to a new country, but to a new life and family she never knew.

In the movie, we go to Hungary where we meet a couple who are attempting to escape the country to seek refuge in the U.S. before the Nazi regime invaded. With a fear of being discovered and killed, they’re forced to abandon their youngest daughter Suzanne in the country and leave her with their family. When their only family is discovered, they send Suzanne to live with a farm couple to be raised until sent for. Suzanne comes back to the U.S. and is forced to adjust from her simple life as a farm girl to a life in the suburbs during the 1950’s. As the youngest daughter, Suzanne grows older she is played by the beautiful Scarlett Johansen who is a rebellious teen who resents her family and makes life harder. I thought the entire story was interesting and you felt for her.

Eva Gardos is great in switching moods of the story within the progression of the movie. Unfortunately, the movie does tend to change moods for the worst as it turns from a movie about a misplaced foreign girl finding her place in America to a grim drama. I would have preferred to see more of Suzanne’s adjustment to American life. The movie focuses only about twenty minutes on Suzanne’s change and adjustment and then fast-forwards to her as a young woman and even then there’s barely any focus on her adjustment as we quickly execute the movie without giving it time to slow down and let us settle into it or her character’s personality. Ultimately, it’s a somewhat satisfying and pleasing story with a lot of heart to it, in spite of its speedy story, and potential for being truly deep and complex.