Derek Winnert


This article was written on 14 Dec 2017, and is filled under Reviews.

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Avalon *** (1990, Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth Perkins, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Joan Plowright, Kevin Pollak) – Classic Movie Review 6408

Writer-director Barry Levinson’s 50-year saga of a Russian-Jewish immigrant family in Baltimore is warmly acted by a strong cast, looks superb thanks to cinematographer Allen Daviau and is quite involving and entertaining. It was nominated for four Oscars and three Golden Globes without any wins.

The intelligent, often winning tale is strong on family tensions and changing periods, though the film is a mite too cosy, manipulative and overlong. However, it explores its theme of Jewish assimilation into American life in satisfying, colourful depth.

Aidan Quinn and Elizabeth Perkins are solid and appealing in the lead roles as Jules and Ann Kaye, but they are easily upstaged by charismatic scene-stealing old hands Armin Mueller-Stahl and Joan Plowright as the family’s patriarch and matriarch, Sam and Eva Krichinsky.

It is Levinson’s third film set in his Baltimore home town after Diner and Tin Men, though it is also less enjoyable or quirky than either of them. It is followed by a fourth film – Liberty Heights (1999).

The title is the name of the family’s first home.

Also in the cast are Kevin Pollak, Leo Fuchs, Eve Gordon, Lou Jacobi, Elijah Wood (aged nine), Ronald Guttman, Israel Rubinek, Grant Gelt and Bernard Hiller.

It is produced by Mark Johnson and Barry Levinson, scored by Randy Newman and designed by Norman Reynolds, with Oscar nominated Best Costume Design by Gloria Gresham.

© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 6408

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