Suzie (Summer Phoenix) is about to become maid of honour at her younger sister's wedding, but her Jewish family is putting pressure on her to get married too. Her parents (Stanley Townsend and Rebecca Front) think wealthy and Jewish Anthony (Iddo Goldberg), would be perfect. Suzie is attracted to Anthony, but when she starts a new job with a television channel, she meets Darren (Leo Gregory), who is different from anyone she has ever met. But Darren is not Jewish, so they start to date secretly, with Suzie confiding in no-one except her eccentric grandmother (Miriam Karlin).
Review by Louise Keller:
The problem with Suzie Gold is that it tries to be too many things for too many people. It's a variation on the theme of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, with Suzie's big, bawdy Jewish family intent on her marrying a nice Jewish boy. It's well observed and often very funny, but rather than concentrate on the snappy exchanges between the members of this extended family which are highly entertaining, the script teeters tentatively as it develops its coming of age and romance themes.
There's a wedding, a funeral and two courtships in this good-natured comedy about identity and being Jewish. Like Bend It Like Beckham, the Gold family members are immigrants living as a close-knit community in North London. And life is anything but peaceful, as they yell at each other, and meddle in each others lives. Everything is focusing around Sophie's upcoming wedding and the pressure is on Suzie to be next to walk down the aisle. And Suzie is contemplating her future, while seriously eyeing the slick and eminently eligible bachelor Anthony Silver, who has just finished his university studies. 'Is he deaf?' asks an elderly relative, referring to Anthony's phone ear-piece, which is part of his everyday wardrobe.
The heart of the story lies with Summer Phoenix's Suzie, who is at times reminiscent of Pia Miranda's Josie in Looking for Alibrandi, as she struggles with her family ties and romantic longings. When Suzie meets Darren (Leo Gregory, appealing), her world changes. After all, it is quite different from her date with Anthony (Iddo Goldberg, wonderfully slimy), when he takes her to Jews on Ice. But the chemistry never sparkles and the climactic scenes when Suzie makes her choice, never fire emotionally.
Members of the Gold family are nicely conceived and portrayed. There's Nana (played in sprightly fashion by Miriam Karlin), a talkative widow who keeps money in her underpants and talks to her dead husband, much to everyone's consternation. The scene when Nana gropes in her undies to pay the tradesman is hilarious. Suzie's teenage brother Toby (Gem Souleyman in his debut role) peppers his vocabulary with Ali G language and spends most of his time in front of a mirror fantasising he is a rap star. Suzie's parents (Stanley Townsend and Rebecca Front), and the rest of the family members are great fun, and it is easy to understand why Suzie is reluctant to bring home a prospective beau, especially if he is not Jewish. 'Three out of four marry out these days,' we hear. 'What will happen when everyone marries out? Hitler will have won!'
The Jewish references are especially well delivered and I like the intermittent quotes, like 'A kind word is no substitute for a piece of herring.' For the undemanding, Suzie Gold offers an entertaining interlude that may not totally satisfy, but has plenty of warmth.
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SUZIE GOLD (M)
CAST: Summer Phoenix, Leo Gregory, Frances Barber, Kevin Bishop, Debbie Chazen, Ariana Fraval, Rebecca Front, Steve Furst, Iddo Goldberg,
PRODUCER: Rebecca Green
DIRECTOR: Richard Cantor
SCRIPT: Richard Cantor, Carry Franklin, Lisa Ratner
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daf Hobson
EDITOR: Michael Ellis
MUSIC: Chris Elliott
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Amanda McArthur
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 2, 2004
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: February 17, 2005