Yentl (1983) - Rotten Tomatoes

Yentl (1983)

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Movie Info

For her directorial debut, Barbra Streisand adapted Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story Yentl. Set in the early 1900s in Eastern Europe, Yentl is the story of a young Jewish woman who has to disguise herself as a boy in order to receive an education. Once she is studying among the Orthodox Jewish rabbis, she falls in love with another student; her situation is further complicated when a woman falls in love her. With the help of Michel Legrand and Alan and Marilyn Bergman (who won Academy Awards for their score), Streisand turned Singer's simple story into a full-blown musical, complete with 12 songs.

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Cast

Amy Irving
as Hadass
Steven Hill
as Reb Alter Vishkower
Alan Corduner
as Shimmele
Ruth Goring
as Esther Rachel
Doreen Mantle
as Mrs. Shaemen
Jack Lynn
as Bookseller
Anna Tzelniker
as Mrs. Kovner
Mary Henry
as Mrs. Jacobs
Robbie Barnett
as Tailor's Assistant
Ian Sears
as David
Renata Buser
as Mrs. Shaemen's Daughter
Frank Baker
as Village Student
Anthony Dean Rubes
as Village Student
Kerry Shale
as Student
Gary Brown
as Student
David de Keyser
as Rabbi Zalman
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Critic Reviews for Yentl

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (1)

Romantic folk tale retold with music and classic Streisand.

Full Review… | December 30, 2010
Common Sense Media

While the movie is on target in terms of noble intent, so much about Yentl is self defeating, and the legendary ego of Streisand can safely be deemed the culprit.

Full Review… | October 27, 2009
Bangitout.com

Yentl is all about, who else? Miss Streisand. But her vast talents turn a gender-bending fable into a winner.

Full Review… | April 21, 2009
What Would Toto Watch?

Oy!

Full Review… | September 23, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Directed by and starring Streisant, this is a charming gender-bending fable, too bad the music is so undistinguished.

Full Review… | July 13, 2005
EmanuelLevy.Com

Surprisingly powerful.

June 19, 2004
Shadows on the Wall

Audience Reviews for Yentl

½

Good film with lots of terribly bland songs.

Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer

Well done, but Barbara is a bit hammy. Pleasant (although often unmemorable) songs. And again -- doesn't Mandy Patinkin play the pan flute for a living nowadays?!

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer

½

This is La Streisand's show from opening to end credits. If you love Barbara, you'll love this flick, especially when she sings 'Papa, Can You Hear Me?' with full emotive expression. This film is her long-cherished adaptation of Isaac Basheviis Singer's short story, 'Yentl, The Yeshiva Boy.' As well as directing and starring, she produced, and she is the only person who gets to sing, despite the presence of renowned musical star Patinkin. Yentl (Streisand) is a young woman who wants nothing more than to study the Talmud, something forbidden to women. When her father dies, she cuts off her hair and convinces a Jewish school that she is a man so she can satisfy her hunger for knowledge. Things get complicated, however, when she becomes close to fellow student Avigdor (Mandy Patinkin), eventually falling in love with him, although she can not reveal her true self as she would then be expelled. Avigdor is in love with Hadass (Amy Irving), but religious law forbids him from marrying her. Granted, this flick is not everyone's cup of tea, and many of my Flixster friends have avoided to watch it. Yet, looking at the other side of a coin, this story of a woman who yearns to study, who lives in a culture that says study is only for men then disguises herself as a man in order to get that education is a story of a strong woman who breaks the gender roles of her time, and a tangled love story. What was typically the male role has been blurred and practically obliterated as well as captures the essence of the Jewish woman's eternal struggle. It describes a woman's search for freedom and her discovery not only of love but of herself. My dear Barbra captures the character beautifully, the songs and the expression in her eyes and voice displaying clearly the feelings of a woman struggling for knowledge and love but torn between her desire to learn and the tradition of her religion. As expected, the music and songs in Yentl received four Academy Award nominations, including two Best Songs. While David Watkin's photography is evocatively poetic, the film's pacing is overly reverential. Still, Streisand's voice very much remains her trademark.

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