Liberty Heights

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Released 1999

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Movie Summary

Director:
Barry Levinson
Released:
1999
Rating:
R

Liberty Heights, a coming-of-age tale set in the mid-1950s, is another slice of Baltimore life from writer/director Barry Levinson ("Diner"). High school senior Van Kurtzman (Adrien Brody) and his younger brother Ben (Ben Foster) are growing up in the era of racial integration, class distinctions and rock and roll shifting the American cultural landscape. They each explore the world beyond the Jewish middle-class life of their parents, Nate (Joe Mantegna) and Ada (Bebe Neuwirth). Van forms a friendship with a Black student, Sylvia (Rebekah Johnson), who introduces him to the music of James Brown. Ben finds himself pulled in the opposite direction when he falls for a WASP debutante named Dubbie (Carolyn Murphy). Meanwhile, Nate's burlesque house keeps losing business to television, and he finds himself in an unlikely partnership with Little Melvin (Orlando Jones), a small-time pusher. This sharply observed 1999 dramedy captures the quiet dramas and poignant moments of family relationships.

Metacritic Score

  • 90

    Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan

    A mature, accomplished piece of work, both funny and deeply felt, personal cinema of the best kind...Levinson has made the memory film we always hoped he would.

  • 90

    Variety Todd McCarthy

    Barry Levinson goes deep with Liberty Heights, and the result is a grand slam.

  • 70

    The New York Times Stephen Holden

    If Liberty Heights is much too soft at its center, it still offers a deeper immersion in that old '50s feeling than any other Hollywood film in recent memory.

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    Categories

    Action & Adventure

    Themes

    Love & Romance, Crime