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Esther Kahn 15 rating

Arnaud Desplechin's artfully directed tale of a young Jewish girl drawn to the passion of theatre in 19th-century London.

Drama 2001 142 mins

Director: Arnaud Desplechin


Staged with authenticity and studded with passion, French director Arnaud Desplechin’s first English language film is a delight for the senses. Set in 19th-century London, it tells the story of Esther, a young, timid girl adopted by a Jewish family, who's drawn to the passionate world of theatre. A vivid and enticing character study that aims to explore the notion of what it means to be an actor.

Adapted by Desplechin himself, along with his writing partner Emmanuel Bordieu, and based on the short story by Arthur Symons, Esther Kahn simmers with the intimacy of working class life and the extravagance of the stage. Propelled by a strong performance from Summer Phoenix, sister of actors Joaquin and the later River Phoenix, it's an entrancing work which betrays the level of detail and care that Desplechin clearly has for his story and characters.