What a lovely film.
An semi-autobiographical account of director Barry Levinson's (Rainman, Good Morning, Vietnam) childhood in Baltimore, Liberty Heights is the fourth in his series of Baltimore pictures, following Diner, Tin Men and Avalon. Not failing the critical success of those earlier films, Levinson's latest offering is an incredibly tender, poignant and sweet account of a town where everyone is simply trying to figure out what it means to be anything--white, black, Jew, good or bad.
The story of Liberty Heights is, very simply, the account of a summer in the '60's, where two boys, Van (Adrien Brody) and Ben (Ben Foster) are growing up in a very traditional Jewish family. Their grandmother believes that the most salient point in the story of Samson and Delilah is that Samson killed all the goyim. Their father, Nate, runs a gambling racket disguised as a strip-joint. At the same time, the two boys are being exposed to a world beyond that of the traditional Jewish one--older son Van is seduced by the WASPish world of white bread neighbourhoods, frat boys and beautiful blond girls, and falls in love with stunner Dubbie (played by model Carolyn Murphy); Ben finds himself drawn to a black girl, Sylvia (Rebekah Johnson). A quiet rebellion thus results in the movie as the two boys get closer and closer to girls that are disapproved of by their family, and start moving into their worlds.
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