The price of compromise with Hitler`s pernicious regime is the theme of Swing Kids, a negligible film that takes on too much. Filmgoers might be surprised at the sharp dramatic turns in store. Trailers sell it as a Nazi-era musical with kids dancing to the music of Count Basie and Benny Goodman, among others.
Characters are introduced and dropped or forgotten altogether in this disjointed effort. Screenwriter Jonathan Marc Feldman isn`t sure if he wants to concentrate on the younger non-Jewish generation or their collaborationist parents. So he touches on both, then leaves the parental story lines unresolved.
It`s about friends, would-be lovers, parents and children trying to cope with the unspeakable terror of living in Hitler`s shadow. But the lack of an epilogue leaves the fate of the most important characters up in the air.
Set in Hamburg in 1939, but shot in Prague, Czechoslovakia, the film looks handsome. It features a very fine performance from Robert Sean Leonard as Peter Muller, a teen-ager obsessed with American swing music, slang and dress. Also excellent is Frank Whaley as his limping musician friend Arvid, who has the courage to speak up about