Liberty Heights

1999, Comedy/Drama, 2h 7m

48 Reviews 5,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

A moving film with moments of humor, Liberty Heights succeeds in capturing the feel of the '50s with great performances and sensitive direction. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

This semi-autobiographical film by Barry Levinson follows various members of the Kurtzman clan, a Jewish family living in suburban Baltimore during the 1950s. As teenaged Ben (Ben Foster) completes high school, he falls for Sylvia (Rebekah Johnson), a black classmate, creating inevitable tensions. Meanwhile, Ben's brother, Van (Adrien Brody), attends college and becomes smitten with a mysterious woman and their father (Joe Mantegna) tries to maintain his burlesque business.

Cast & Crew

Adrien Brody
Van Kurtzman
Ben Foster
Ben Kurtzman
Orlando Jones
Little Melvin
Bebe Neuwirth
Ada Kurtzman
Joe Mantegna
Nate Kurtzman
Richard Kline
Charlie, Nate's Assistant
Vincent Guastaferro
Pete, Nate's Assistant
Justin Chambers
Trey Tobelseted
Carolyn Murphy
Dubbie the Blonde
James Pickens Jr.
Sylvia's Father
Frania Rubinek
Rose (Grandma)
Kiersten Warren
Annie the Stripper
Kevin Sussman
Alan Joseph Zuckerman
Michael Haley
Associate Producer
Patrick McCormick
Executive Producer
Amy Solan
Associate Producer
Andrea Morricone
Original Music
Tom Waits
Original Music
Christopher Doyle
Cinematographer
Stu Linder
Film Editor
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News & Interviews for Liberty Heights

Critic Reviews for Liberty Heights

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (7)

Audience Reviews for Liberty Heights

  • Aug 22, 2011
    This is flawless filmmaking. Great storytelling and superb acting. 'Liberty Heights' is the movie 'Crash' wanted to be. The movie deals with race relations with intelligence. However, you know when the cinematographer is one Christopher Doyle the highlight of the movie is going to be the photography. It's impossible to look away when a true artist is saturating us with vibrant colours and wonderful compositions. It's beautiful, you can empty a thesaurus praising Doyle.
    Jonny B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 10, 2007
    Life for Jews and blacks in 1950's America. That sentence pretty much sums up the film. There's no plot, instead it's a character-lead film but sadly the characters are so cliched that the film ends up being supremely mediocre. Brody is good but has nothing to do, it's Foster who has the most interesting storyline - it's just a shame it's Romeo + Juliet all over again. This film really could have done with some darkness or a threat (there's a kidnapping but the tone is way too light) to give it some grit and substance.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 11, 2007
    I watched this movie b/c it's about Baltimore. It was ok.
    Ida K Super Reviewer
  • Oct 15, 2006
    Ada Kurtzman: No, there the other kind. Set in 1954 Baltimore, this is a coming of age story involving two Jewish boys, one in high school, one in college, both going after girls and dealing with the changing in times and issues of race, class, and religion. Ben Foster is the younger of the two, he plays Ben Kurtzman. His story revolves around his attraction to a fellow black girl in his class. The two hit it off, but there are various obstacles in the way of them hanging out together. Adrien Brody is the older brother, Van. He is basically the simplest character in the movie. All he wants to do is find a girl he met one night at a party, although this does provide the setup for a number of entertaining scenes involving he and his friends hanging in the "non-jewish" neighborhoods. You also have their parents played by Bebe Neuwirth and Joe Mantegna. This plot is the least entertaining, mainly cause it drags in another character. Mantegna runs a burlesque house and an illegal numbers operation. He gets into some trouble when a lottery game they have going needs to pay off much more than they can. This part leads to a character played by Orlando Jones that really doesn't help the movie much, besides give way to some story developments. Besides this character, the movie works very well. Foster is very good, as he is basically the main protagonist. Mantegna is just a cool guy in general, so he works. The chemistry between the friends is all very good. Director Barry Levinson, who has made a number of comedy-dramas, knows how to keep things pretty balanced and entertaining. He also gets a number of 50s elements present and has some hints of satire. The issues involving jews, blacks, and the rich white crowd are handled well enough, but this isn't a film about providing deep answers to these things or anything like that. It just serves as a setting. The film takes that setting, and uses it to make a fine coming of age story. Ben Kurtzman: In the event of a bombing, do you think this book will save my life?...First it was the Atom bomb, how its the hydrogen bomb...no hydrogen is getting through this book.
    Aaron N Super Reviewer

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