by David Gurevich
An American Rhapsody is a story of an elite Hungarian family that flees the Stalinist terror to America around 1950. At first the plot description makes you think of such classy, sensitive Hungarian fare as Time Stands Still (1982); but the very first scene where Peter (Tony Goldwyn) and Margit (Nastassja Kinski) are forced to leave their baby Zsuzsa behind reminds you that you’re not really in Budapest anymore. Oh yes, it is shot in a solemn black-and-white, and there are subtitles, for Goldwyn and Kinski speak Hungarian with credible accents, so one might expect a heart-rending drama wrapped in East European art-house leisurely-madcap quirkiness. But the pacing is tight, and every line of dialogue "foreshadows" – we’re in Hollywood. As the final blow, the credits include the line I dread most: Based on a true story. The screen shrinks, and you expect the first block of commercials to arrive.
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