Three generations of Hungarian Jews (played by Ralph Fiennes in three different roles) attempt to assimilate into the mainstream of their European society. Director Istvan Szabo’s film, written by Szabo and playwright Israel Horovitz, is a deeply human epic that goes from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 1880s to the fall of the Soviet Union without contrivance or false melodrama. The family changes its name—from Sonnenschein (“sunshine”) to something that “sounds more Hungarian”—and even converts to Catholicism, yet they are always disdained and mistrusted as outsiders. The film is ironic and tragic, yet ultimately triumphant and life-affirming, leaving us stunned at the inexorable march of history. Fiennes is nothing short of brilliant—a great performance of subtlety and stature.