Based on E.L. Doctorow’s novel based on the Rosenberg case. Here’s a film where Paul Robeson’s music is put in its Yiddish context, if that makes any sense.
Switching between the late 40s/early 50s in fabulous sepia tone and “now” meaning late ’60s with all the bandanas and sloganeering, this is, if nothing else, a visual triumph with dynamite NYC location shooting. Many of the scenes feel as if they belong on the stage, but the writing and the acting is so sharp that actually works in its favor.
I think, though, that the film loses some of its impact if you don’t know much about the actual Rosenberg case. There is little here about the ripples this sent through the immigrant and Jewish communities. The Citizen Kane structure kinda falls apart at the end, too – we don’t know what, if anything, Daniel hopes to learn from his quest. And how it has affected him or his homelife.
These are quibbles, though. It is a terrific movie and anyone with an interest in this sort of thing will gobble this up. To watch Mandy Patinkin ramble about Trotsky?!? Dayenu!