Esther Kahn

on March 01, 2002 by Ed Scheid
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   This English-language film from French director Arnaud Desplechin (“How I Got Into an Argument”) focuses on Esther (Summer Phoenix), the daughter of Jewish immigrants in London at the end of the 19th century. Attending a theatre performance, the sullen and withdrawn Esther finds an excitement lacking in her life and decides to become an actress. She's encouraged by an impoverished actor (Ian Holm, with his usual flair) and becomes involved with a theatre critic (Fabrice Desplechin).

   Arnaud Desplechin, who co-wrote the screenplay, is most successful in developing the gloomy, shadowy atmosphere of working-class London where Esther and her family live. The film loses steam when Esther's career takes off. The film frustratingly avoids any scenes of Esther's stage performances, and Phoenix lacks the magnetism to make the heroine's stage success believable. The film's climax, in which Esther develops an exaggerated stage fright on opening night, is drawn-out and overly melodramatic. Like its title character, “Esther Kahn” is unusual but unfortunately also irritating. Starring Summer Phoenix, Ian Holm and Fabrice Desplechin. Directed by Arnaud Desplechin. Written by Arnaud Desplechin and Emmanuel Bourdieu. Produced by Alain Sarde. An Empire release. Drama. Unrated. Running Time: 142 min

Tags: Starring Summer Phoenix, Ian Holm and Fabrice Desplechin. Directed by Arnaud Desplechin. Written by Arnaud Desplechin, Emmanuel Bourdieu, Produced by Alain Sarde, Empire, Drama
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