Suzie Gold

Movie Review by Neil Ryan

Starring: Summer Phoenix, Leo Gregory, Stanley Townsend, Rebecca Front, Frances Barber

Director: Ric Cantor

SUZIE GOLD is a hit and miss rom-com set amongst a well-to-do Jewish middle class enclave of North London. The eponymous heroine (played by American Summer Phoenix) is a university graduate who is undecided about her future. Living at home with her parents and younger siblings she entertains half-formed ideas about working in media and marrying a nice Jewish boy with good prospects. Indeed, everything seems to be falling into place when she lands a job as a runner on a television show and the handsome (and parent pleasing) Anthony (Iddo Goldberg) asks her out on a date. But reality checks manifest themselves in the form of her boss (who quickly reveals himself to be loud, boorish, and impossible to please) and when close contact with Anthony proves him to be as dull as he is nice. However, relief from both of these setbacks comes in the form of fellow employee Darren (Leo Gregory): good looking and goy, he and Suzie quickly hit it off and when romance blossoms she ditches Anthony in favour of the new model. Thus she is forced to lead a double life: continuing to date Darren whilst keeping knowledge of the burgeoning relationship secret from her family who will not countenance the idea of her marrying outside of the faith. In fact Suzie’s parents are hopeful that the impending marriage of her younger sister will encourage Suzie and Anthony to entertain thoughts of matrimony themselves; thus, with pressure building, Suzie is forced to decide what it is that she really wants from life….

SUZIE GOLD is an attempt to combine typically British earthy humour and an original ethnic angle, with some staples of the rom-com genre liberally sprinkled about for good measure: a wedding set piece, quirky second-string characters, a bit of a croon on the soundtrack, and a last minute dash by the love struck central character. However, the adoption of such crowd pleasing standard fare smacks of being a concessionary measure and ultimately weakens the film, especially as they serve to remind one that such devices have originally been used far more effectively in better films. On the plus side there are some enjoyable moments courtesy of an eclectic cast of British talent in supporting roles and Summer Phoenix is a revelation in the title role: vulnerable and appealing, she also manages to effect a near-perfect accent (which is far more acutely observed then the non-denominational ‘somewhere from the Home Counties’ effort normally associated with overseas thesps). It is just a shame that she is not given better support from her would-be suitors: whilst it could be argued that Goldberg’s Anthony is deliberately played as wooden to emphasize the character’s monotony, Gregory’s Darren is simply flat. He gives a thorough performance and his lines are adequately rendered, but the “smart, sexy, and charming” Darren promised by the film’s publicity is actually a 100% charisma-free zone.

3 out of 6 stars

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