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This film is a smart, rueful and dead-on portrait of life's unending quest to fit in; and the girl who solves it by completely breaking out - introduces a feisty outsider hero unlike any other seen on screen. Esther Blueburger's quest begins when she escapes from her Bat Mitzvah party and is befriended by Sunni.., the effortlessly cool girl who is everything Esther thinks she wants to be. With the help of Sunni, Esther goes away from her ordinary life and leaves behind her malfunctioning Jewish family to hang out with Sunni's far breezier and super-hip single mom Mary and attend Sunni's forbidden public school as a Swedish exchange student.Written by
By the time other people began reading the movie's screenplay, it became clear that Esther Blueburger reverberated strongly with a lot of very different people in a lot of the same ways. For producer Miriam Stein, who was looking for her first production when she encountered Cathy Randall's script, Esther's valiant, adventurous struggle to meet the world on her own oddball terms really hit home. "The script resonated with me from the start," Stein recalled. "As a Jewish woman whose name used to be Miriam Grunberg, then at fourteen years changed to Stein, and who went to three different schools often feeling like an outsider, there was no way I was not making this film. More than any script I had read, it made me laugh and cry, and it was a movie I would pay money to see. It took me back to that time in own my life when I so desperately wanted to be seen, understood and accepted. As an adult, I still strongly connect to Esther's story and those feelings." Stein continued: "I felt this script had so much potential because it struck me that it would appeal to anyone at all who has ever been thirteen. Teens see themselves in Esther and Sunni, while adults reflect nostalgically with joy and pain about this most vulnerable and formative time of life when everything matters." See more »
When Jacob and Esther are pretending to be their parents at the dining table and Jacob slides the salt and pepper towards Esther, in the next shot the salt and pepper are seen passing each other going in different directions. See more »
This is billed as a story about a young Jewish girl and her struggle for acceptance - i.e. the typical high school movie.
I had a favourable overall impression of the film. It was very cute in a lot of places, cringe-worthy in others, with a few moments of humour interjected. I found that there was authenticity in a lot of the small things that I could relate to from my own experiences - the uniform checks, the singing of the school song, how we made out with the boys.
But as another reviewer said, the vast majority of the characters in this film were caricatures of certain types: the uptight mother, the bitchy classmate, the fat kid who got picked on, the friend's mother who is the exact opposite of Esther's mother... a lot of it seemed very contrived and fake.
The opening of the film was rather brilliantly done; Esther watching upon the sheep-like choreography of her school classmates as they gathered for lunch. It kept at this high all through the first act; we could relate to Esther and her troubles - who else flushed with embarrassment as she approached the "popular" girls with invites to her bar mitzvah? I was especially impressed with how quickly Esther could get a story out or parrot off something she had heard earlier.
It was when she met Sunni after the bar mitzvah that things went slowly downhill, starting slow but rapidly spiralling towards the end of the film. My initial impression of Sunni is that she was in Year 12 - she certainly looked like it. So the resulting events of sneaking out of private school to attend class as a Swedish exchange student at the public school really jarred uncomfortably. I don't know of a girls-only public school anyway. It was ..a little too far fetched.
At this point, I lost all sympathy for Esther. As she parrots off sentences from other people, she began to parrot off attitudes of Sunni's friends. Beating up the fat kid for her raincoat was a real low. Kudos to the characterisation of Sunni to be equally disgusted at her actions.
I couldn't figure out the relevance of Sunni's mum's death or the blow job in the street. I didn't think it lent anything to the story at all. Sunni's appearance at the private school was equally unexplainable, as was the presence of her grandmother (?) and Esther's mother. Then Esther standing up to the crowd to say her poem, with the prefects and the teachers standing agape... I didn't get that either. That whole scene was too staged for my liking, as if they just needed something to show that Esther was going back to her likable, quirky self. Anti-climactic is what I would describe it. It soured the entire movie for me.
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