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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Aidan Quinn, Elijah Wood, Armin Mueller Stahl
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Barry Levinson
MPAA RATING
PG
RUNNING TIME
126 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
TriStar
 "Avalon" Review 
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Writer/Director Barry Levinson closes out his Baltimore Trilogy with "Avalon," a visually enchanting, magnificently assembled tale of the Krichinsky family over a period of several decades. Levinson beautifully captures the family's journey to America as immigrants and the trials and tribulations they face in discovering America, economic success, and each other.

Aidan Quinn serves as the centerpiece for the action, and Levinson wisely allows the action to evolve essentially around his experiences in America, business and family. As Jules, Quinn is marvelous and reminds us why we ever hoped for his career to blossom. Quinn's performance is one of great power and yet one also of great sensitivity.

It is this sensitivity that allows "Avalon" to stand out among films. Levinson, better than most American writers, captures the complexities of the male spirit and heart. Levinson's male characters are never one-note. Instead, Levinson creates men of strength who are comfortable in their masculinity and, yet, also strong enough to care openly and expressively. Even in a film such as the nearly disastrous "Toys," Levinson creates a character who is at once sensitive and child-like yet strong enough to confront the most dastardly evil. Levinson offers a refreshing spin on masculinity that I embrace and celebrate.

Quinn is surrounded by a family of solid performances including Armin Mueller Stahl, Joan Plowright, Lou Jacobi and Leo Fuchs. In supporting roles, Elijah Woods and Elizabeth Perkins shine particularly brightly.

"Avalon" remains visually mesmerizing throughout, however, the screenplay itself starts to falter towards the end of the film. In some ways, the messages of the film begin to overtake the characters and we are left with a film that becomes more an intellectual exercise than a celebration of family. This "soapbox" approach has plagued Levinson before and completely sunk the otherwise appealing "Toys."

Yet, just when it appears that "Avalon" is destined to become lost the charm and beauty returns and we are allowed to again embrace the family we have grown to care about. The film is somewhat reminiscent of Jim Sheridan's "In America," a later film that much more successfully captures the spirit and heart of this time period and experience.

Visually stunning, occasionally frustrating but nearly constantly inspiring, "Avalon" is a film of beauty, simplicity and hope that will make you want to call up your parents and just say

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

    The 50/50 x 2020 Pledge

    The Independent Critic is proud to support Indy-based Heartland Film by committing to the 50/50 x 2020 Pledge - By the end of the year 2020, The Independent Critic will achieve gender parity in its reviews of both shorts and feature films. Furthermore, The Independent Critic also pledges support for the Ruderman Family Foundation's call for authentic representation of people with disabilities in film and actively commits to leverage its journalistic influence to effect genuine change in the film industry by calling for and actively promoting authentic and inclusive casting and hiring of people with disabilities.

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