A young Hungarian girl struggles to find her place in the world when she's reunited with her parents in the USA years after she was left behind during their flight from the communist country in the 1950s.
In 1950, a Hungarian couple, Peter and Margit, are forced to flee from the oppressive communist country for the USA with their eldest daughter Maria, but are forced to leave behind their infant daughter Suzanne who is raised by kindly foster couple. 6 years later, Peter and Margit arrange for the American Red Cross to bring Suzanne to their new home in Los Angeles where the perplexed youth is forced to accept her sudden change in home and country which leads to a troubled growing up. At age 15, the rebellious and unsure-of-herself Suzanne tries to come to terms with her roots and decides to travel back to Budapest, Hungary to find her true identity.Written by
Éva Gárdos met actress Colleen Camp on the set of Apocalypse Now (1979), when she was a casting director for the film. During shooting breaks, Éva told Colleen her true story of her childhood as a Hungarian émigré and Colleen encouraged her to turn it into a film. Colleen Camp would ultimately help produce the film, and played a small role in it as a neighborhood housewife. See more »
Suzanne first arrives in Los Angeles in 1955, one house has an eighteen-inch television satellite dish strapped to the chimney. See more »
Do you know what your father and I had to go through...
Suzanne - at 15:
Yeah, I know, you- you walked 20 kilometers and you- you climbed under barbed wire, right? Yeah, I know.
You don't know anything.
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After the film is a black and white picture of Éva Gárdos with her parents circa 1955. See more »
Moving examination of family and politically caused separation
I enjoyed this movie more than the author of the highlighted review. I found the separations of family (real or surrogate) which take place several times in the movie very emotionally powerful.
I assume the director's family did move to Los Angeles - in any event it does provide the greatest disparity with the rural Hungary for the young girl. As an Easterner, I kept wondering if they had moved to the New England countryside - or to any older rural area or city in much of the rest of the country - whether the differences for the young girl would have seemed so stark.
I disagree with the highlighted review that suburban America of the 1950s was shown as cold - to the contrary the film shows neighbors welcoming the new family (even if, as I think quite realistic, they don't pay too much attention to the country they're from), friends gathering for barbeques, strangers returning little lost girls to their homes, children from different countries easily making friends. I thought America was shown as a pretty warm friendly place.
One problem I did have was that instead of finding the adolescent girl "typical" or acting as a result of her past, I thought she was a horrid brat - sullen, routinely refusing to speak when spoken to, flagrantly disobedient in leaving through windows too stay out through the night, drinking through the night with older boys, etc.
I didn't sense that this WAS due to the long ago difficulty of adjustment, but was instead this girl's spoiled nature, her willfulness, her lack of obedience. (Nor do I think of it as a consequence of living in America). I was therefore completely sympathetic with Kinski's despair - only by Goldwyn's slowness to anger over her wretched behavior. I kept wondering why the family wasn't physically disciplining the child and treating the adolescent's "I hate you" statements" with the contempt they deserved.
I also disliked the withholding of information about the particular motivation for Kinski to leave Hungary for later dramatic effect. Even if the event is true, it was something that could have happened anywhere in the world - and therefore not particularly a reason to leave one country rather than another. Moreover, there was suficient reason for the family to wish to leave Hungary in any event.
Nastassia Kinski and Tony Goldwyn were wonderful - as was everyone - particularly the surrogate mother, the grandmother and the child at the heart of the movie.
This is a moving film - I do wish it had received more attention. It's well worth your time and rental fee.
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