Suzie Gold


Reviewed by: David Haviland

Romantic comedies are often damned with faint praise, as their plots seem obvious and predictable in hindsight, so we tend to forget how successfully they manage to fool and surprise us on first viewing. Even Sleepless In Seattle, generally regarded as one of the cheesiest films of the genre, succeeds in getting us to doubt the outcome, by having two characters that don't even meet until the end of the film.

Suzie Gold makes no effort to surprise us and consequently disappoints.

Summer Phoenix plays Suzie, a Jewish Princess with an overbearing family. She and her girlfriends swoon over Anthony Silver (Iddo Goldberg), the perfect Jewish boy. However, just as Anthony is starting to take an interest in her, she falls in love with Darren (Leo Gregory), who is ideal in all respects bar one: he's not Jewish. Suzie's parents will be heartbroken if she marries her dream goy, which leaves her with a very tricky decision.

Well, actually, it doesn't, as her choice is never in doubt.

Suzie Gold might as well have been called Bridget Jones' Big Fat Jewish Wedding And A Funeral, as it cuts and pastes from a number of romantic comedies, without matching the charm of any of them. Like Bridget Jones, Suzie is a north Londoner despairing about her career and love life, but here the panic seems completely unjustified, as she can clearly marry any man she chooses. Like Nia Vardalos's My Big Fat Greek Wedding, we're treated to comic racial stereotypes and a selection of cultural rituals, yet here the jokes fall flat and the Jewish context has no bearing on the central story.

And just like Four Weddings And A Funeral, there's the death of a supporting character to kick off the third act, but, in Richard Curtis's film, the death was central to the plot, as it reminded Hugh Grant that life is short and love can slip away if you neglect your opportunities. In Suzie Gold, the death's only bizarre effect seems to be to remind Suzie how quaint Jewish ceremonies are.

Ric Cantor is one of the writers on the Ali G TV series and this is his debut feature. As his CV might suggest, the observational comedy is stronger than the narrative. The film's best joke is indebted to Ali G, as it features a teenage Jewish boy, who thinks he's a gangster rapper.

It feels like a debut, too, with an obvious and overused soundtrack - do we really need Misty Blue to tell us that break-ups are sad? - and unconvincing shifts in tone. Phoenix and Stanley Townsend, as Suzie's father, give strong performances, but the rest are sitcom standard and few of the characters are believable.

At one point, Darren gets upset, after he and Suzie have been to see Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? The idea is that he recognises a parallel with the Sidney Poitier character, as he is also a victim of discrimination. Instead of empathising, we find ourselves wondering, why on earth would she take him to see this particular movie?

Reviewed on: 18 Feb 2004
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A Jewish girl is torn between a Jewish boy her family approves of and a gentile.
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Director: Ric Cantor

Writer: Ric Cantor, Carry Franklin, Lisa Ratner

Starring: Summer Phoenix, Leo Gregory, Stanley Townsend, Rebecca Front, Frances Barber, Iddo Goldberg, Miriam Karlin

Year: 2004

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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