For forty years Lilian Singer has been locked up in a 'loony bin' by her father. Her release is eventually secured by her eccentric Aunt Kitty and her brother, John. Lilian starts to carve ... See full summary »
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
Raised a Catholic, actress Danielle Catanzariti, for her role in this film, needed to take lessons in Jewish history and Hebrew to prepare for blessing over the Torah in the Bat Mitzvah ceremony, as well as learn to break-dance during the hora sequence at Esther's "coming of age" party. But there was little doubt in Danielle's mind that she was ready to give everything for this role. She said: "I loved the script and the journey you go on with Esther through all the challenges of peer pressure and bullying and becoming yourself. She's a very strong character and I knew I was going to have a lot of fun playing her." 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 film could be described as the Jewish slapstick comic version of "Looking for Alibrandi", the archetypal Australian girl growing up story. Esther, a tiny but bright 14 year old Jewish girl, is shunned by the other girls at her posh Adelaide school. Sunni, a girl from the nearby state school, takes her under her wing, as it were, and Esther starts attending Sunni's school unofficially as a Swedish exchange student. Plenty of pratfalls follow, but the story turns serious towards the finish.
Danielle Catanzareti is brilliant as Esther and just about carries the film. Keisha Castel-Hughes is convincing as Sunni, as is Essi Davis as Ester's mother Grace (who seems to be channeling Bree from "Desperate Housewives" right down to her dress sense.) Tony Collette, in her brief appearance as Sunni's striptease artist mother, is OK but seems to be in the wrong movie, and the other girls at St Posh are, like the girls of St Trinians, too old and too depraved to be authentic.
About half-way through Esther and her pals go nightclubbing. There are a couple of problems with this. First, no bouncer would let someone of Esther's size and youth in to a strip club, even in Adelaide. Second, Esther giving head to a teenage boy who is no more than an acquaintance, in a dingy alleyway as her friends look on, while it fits in with her attempts to be accepted, proved a bit much for some of the audience with 10-12 year old children who walked out at that stage (the film is rated "M" in Australia). This is a pity because otherwise the film is suitable for kids of about 10 years and up.
There are some good comic moments, such as the massed choir of the posh school singing a heavily over-written version of the Yardbirds' "House of the Rising Sun", Esther and her geek brother Jacob's send-up of genteel family dining, and the "Esther cam" view of the Bar-Mitzvah reception. There is also a "magic realism" element which emerges occasionally such as when we are told about the school's tribes. But the ending is a bit unsatisfactory. One again a first-time writer director has been let loose with some taxpayer's money and the result is an interesting but patchy piece. There is imagination at work here and freshness, but the film doesn't draw the viewer in the way "Looking for Alibrandi" did.
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