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Esther Kahn (2001)

tomatometer

33

Average Rating: 4.6/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 6

No consensus yet.

audience

61

liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 684

My Rating

Movie Info

The English-language debut of French director Arnaud Desplechin, Esther Kahn charts the ascension of a lower-class Jewish girl from a turn-of-the-century London ghetto to one of the stage's leading actresses. Esther (Summer Phoenix) feels set apart from her large, raucous family, who are all employed in the garment business. Her life is changed when she attends a Yiddish theatre performance, and she is suddenly determined to become an actress. After joining a small theatre company, she becomes

Dec 3, 2002

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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (12) | DVD (2)

Beautiful and baffling.

January 16, 2003 Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The narrator and the other characters try to convince us that acting transfigures Esther, but she's never seen speaking on stage; one feels cheated, and Esther seems to remain an unchanged dullard.

May 30, 2002 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What makes Esther Kahn so demanding is that it progresses in such a low-key manner that it risks monotony. But it's worth the concentration.

April 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ms. Phoenix is completely lacking in charm and charisma, and is unable to project either Esther's initial anomie or her eventual awakening.

March 13, 2002
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a lot to ask people to sit still for two hours and change watching such a character, especially when rendered in as flat and impassive a manner as Phoenix's.

March 1, 2002 Full Review Source: Newsday
Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The French director has turned out nearly 21/2 hours of unfocused, excruciatingly tedious cinema that, half an hour in, starts making water torture seem appealing.

March 1, 2002
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I found it endlessly fascinating.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

It's a strange film, one that was hard for me to warm up to.

March 31, 2003 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Attempting to determine whether the offstage trauma that she's undergoing is genuine or an extreme form of method acting becomes the film's dramatic crux, and it's more than enough to hold the viewer's attention

January 11, 2003 Full Review Source: MovieMartyr.com
MovieMartyr.com

The biggest problem I have (other than the very sluggish pace) is we never really see her Esther blossom as an actress, even though her talent is supposed to be growing.

December 11, 2002 Full Review
Planet Sick-Boy

An ambitious, serious film that manages to do virtually everything wrong; sitting through it is something akin to an act of cinematic penance.

June 30, 2002 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

Like its title character, Esther Kahn is unusual but unfortunately also irritating.

April 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Beautifully produced.

April 11, 2002
New Times

if you are an actor who can relate to the search for inner peace by dramatically depicting the lives of others onstage, then Esther's story is a compelling quest for truth.

April 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Ranks among the best films ever made about the acting profession.

March 1, 2002 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A well-done film of a self-reflexive, philosophical nature.

February 26, 2002 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

A film worthy of comparison to Truffaut's best cinematic poems.

January 26, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

A particularly joyless, and exceedingly dull, period coming-of-age tale.

November 26, 2001 Full Review Source: BBC.com
BBC.com

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