- 2 hr 6 min
When Sam Krichinsky arrived in Baltimore in 1914, a newly arrived Russian immigrant, the sky lit up with fireworks. At least that’s how he remembers that magical time and how he recounts it when he tells stories to his children and grandchildren years later. Set in 1950s Baltimore, Avalon is the 1990 film that tells the story of Russian-Jewish immigrant Sam and the subsequent generations of the Krichinsky family. Armin Mueller-Stahl plays Sam, with the indomitable Joan Plowright in the role of his loving wife Eva. The two of them are patriarch and matriarch for a large, loving family that nonetheless begins to experience struggles and to grow apart as the younger generations begin to assimilate more into modern American culture, forgetting some of their cultural and traditional roots. Lou Jacobi plays Sam’s brother Gabriel, and Kevin Pollack and Aidan Quinn play the parts of Jules and Izzy, the younger Krichinsky sons. Their fathers struggle to understand them when they shorten their common surname to Kaye and Kirke in order to go into business. When their business does well, the second generation decides to move to the suburbs, provoking something of a family crisis. Elizabeth Perkins plays Ann, the wife of Jules. A very young Elijah Wood plays the role of Michael Kaye, Ann and Jules’ son and a third-generation Krichinsky. Many of the film’s most touching scenes take place between Michael and his grandfather Sam. A touching drama filled with some delightful comedic moments, Avalon was the third film set in Baltimore for director Barry Levinson, who drew on his own childhood there for a series of four loosely connected films. In addition to directing, Levinson wrote the screenplay for Avalon, winning a writing award from the Writers’ Guild of America. The film was also nominated for five Academy Awards.