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An American Rhapsody

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Original title
An American Rhapsody
Running time
106 min.
United States United States
Éva Gardos
Cliff Eidelman
Elemer Ragalyi
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Co-production USA-Hungarian; Paramount Classics
Drama | Based On A True Story. 1960s
Synopsis / Plot
This autobiographical coming of age tale from writer-director Eva Gardos begins in 1950s Hungary as Communist oppression forces a pair of aristocratic parents (Nastassja Kinski and Tony Goldwyn) to sneak across the border to freedom and find a new life in America. Circumstances result in their infant daughter, Zsuza, being left behind to spend her formative years in the care of loving Hungarian peasants. When, at age six, she finally comes to the U.S., the cross-curtain culture shock makes for an extra-stormy adolescence, especially when her guilt-ridden mother becomes over-protective to the point of keeping Zsuza locked in her room.

The film makes striking contrast between the old-world beauty of Hungary and the prefabricated gaudiness of post-war America, and Gardos manages to be refreshingly non-judgmental in portraying the pros and cons of each. Performances are uniformly strong, especially from the always-intense Kinski, and newcomer Kelly Endrész-Bálanki as the 6-year-old Zsuzsa (she is later played by Scarlett Johansen, who is also very good). A heartfelt tearjerker that is never maudlin or forced, this story benefits from sharp period detail and has a recognizable ring of truth.
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