Esther Kahn
Esther Kahn (2001)

The English-language debut of French director Arnaud Desplechin, Esther Kahn charts the ascension of a lower-class Jewish girl from a turn-of-the-century London ghetto to one of the stage's leading actresses. Esther (Summer Phoenix)… More

Directed By:
Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Genre: Drama
Release Date: March 1, 2001
DVD Release Date: December 3, 2002
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Critic Score: 50% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Manohla Dargis
L.A. Weekly

Beautiful and baffling.

Andrew Sarris
New York Observer

Ms. Phoenix is completely lacking in charm and charisma, and is unable to project either Esther's initial anomie or her eventual awakening.

Jeffrey M. Anderson
Combustible Celluloid

I found it endlessly fascinating.

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Rasmi Simhan
Dallas Morning News

The narrator and the other characters try to convince us that acting transfigures Esther, but she's never seen speaking on stage; one feels cheated, and Esther seems to remain an unchanged dullard.

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Gene Seymour

It's a lot to ask people to sit still for two hours and change watching such a character, especially when rendered in as flat and impassive a manner as Phoenix's.

Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

It's a strange film, one that was hard for me to warm up to.

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Kevin Thomas
Los Angeles Times

What makes Esther Kahn so demanding is that it progresses in such a low-key manner that it risks monotony. But it's worth the concentration.

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Megan Turner
New York Post

The French director has turned out nearly 21/2 hours of unfocused, excruciatingly tedious cinema that, half an hour in, starts making water torture seem appealing.

Jeremy Heilman

Attempting to determine whether the offstage trauma that she's undergoing is genuine or an extreme form of method acting becomes the film's dramatic crux, and it's more than enough to hold the viewer's attention

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