It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States three years earlier and has settled where many of his background have, namely on Hester Street on the Lower East ...
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It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States three years earlier and has settled where many of his background have, namely on Hester Street on the Lower East Side of New York City. He has assimilated to American life, having learned English, anglicized his name to Jake, and shaved off his beard. He is working at a $12/week job as a seamster, the money earned to be able to bring his wife Gitl and his son Yossele to America from Russia. Regardless, he has fallen in love with another woman, a dancer named Mamie Fein. Nonetheless, he is excited when he learns that Gitl and Yossele are indeed coming to America. His happiness at their arrival is dampened when he sees that Gitl is not "American" looking like Mamie and has troubles assimilating as quickly as he would like. Except to Mamie, he tries to show a public façade that everything is fine at home with Gitl. But can their marriage survive these differences, and if not, will Gitl be able to manage in this new... Written by
I think the best adjective for Hester Street is beautiful. The way immigrant life, with all of its complexities and nuances, is depicted is very poignant. It is not so long ago that many of our ancestors displayed bravery by leaving for a faraway land that they knew little of. Their struggle to escape persecution or poverty and to assimilate into a foreign culture is part of the American experience.
I love the way this film captures the duality of life in the Jewish section of New York. Despite the fact that only Jews live in this area, we see both the Americanized lifestyle and the orthodox lifestyle, existing side by side and evolving daily.
Carol Kane is wonderful in the part of Gitl, the wife who must adapt to a new world and put up with a husband who has abandoned all principles in his adoption of American ways.
Hester Street feels like a "small" film. Much of the action takes place in the cramped apartment of Gitl and her family (and the boarder). This is Gitl's new world, a reality that she might be content with, if her husband were loving. The street scenes remind us that Gitl's apartment is just a small part of a bustling neighborhood situated in a huge city in a corner of the new world.
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