Barry Levinson takes another gambol down memory lane in this gentle, coming-of-age drama, his fourth film to be set in his home town of Baltimore. Autobiographical in tone, Liberty Heights centres on one Jewish family and its experience of racism, desegregation and assimilation in the mid-'50s.
For Nate Kurtzman (Joe Mantegna), running a numbers racket is an easy way to make dough - - until he falls foul of a menacing black drugs dealer. Eldest son Van (Adrien Brody) loves an unattainable WASP socialite, while brother Ben (Ben Foster) is captivated by a beautiful coloured classmate - - when he's not busy dressing up as Adolf Hitler on Halloween night, that is.
Anecdotal and episodic, Liberty Heights lives up to its narrator's claim that "life is made up of a few big moments and a lot of little ones". Not everyone will succumb to its nostalgic mood, but those who do are in for a subtle, well-observed treat.