Projections - Movie Reviews

An American Rhapsody

An American Rhapsody

Eva Gardos' An American Rhapsody has a melodramatic pull that belies this earnest labor of love of a film editor who performs more cogently as a director than as a writer.

Though her work behind the camera is sometimes representative of how this autobiographical tale unfolds in bursts of passion and volatility, Gardos generally makes good in letting the audience into the life of the fictional character, Suzanne.

As Gardos' narrative sets Suzanne with the warmly rearing couple of seniors in the countryside, her biological parents, Tony Goldwyn's Peter and Nastassja Kinski's Margit, have become settled in a Los Angles working-class neighborhood.  Peter toils to gradually get his family on sound middle-class footing.

The script nebulously connects Margit's efforts to appeal to international leaders for sponsorships of Suzanne, as a 6-year old, by the International Red Cross to come to the US.  Eventually she is put on a plane to LA.

The younger Suzanne, a very cute Kelly Endresz-Banlaki, has difficulty with the changes in her life as she's attentive to cars and juicy hamburgers.  Then An American Rhapsody starts to loose its grip as Suzanne grows up.

With Johansson's teenage Suzanne as a delinquent who dislikes her rigid mother and barely speaks to her older sister, she calls upon a promise made by her father to let her visit her foster family in Budapest.

Whereas the early reels exuded an intimacy, the teenage Suzanne deports An American Rhapsody into sudsy melodrama all the while the striking lensing and production evocatively details the dichotomy of the 50's and 60's in two vastly different nations.

This beautifully mounted period piece with some heartfelt performances too eagerly lets go of the Eastern European politics and subtitles in favor of what American audiences are perceived to agree should be uncomplicated art house fare.  But, An American Rhapsody doesn't carry a sound immigrant tune once it broadens itself in America, where it is mired unconvincingly in the refuge of one's past.

An American Rhapsody

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