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Reckoning

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HEY HEY IT'S ESTHER BLUEBURGER

SYNOPSIS:
Esther (Danielle Catanzariti) is an outsider: she is not accepted either at her posh private school, or at home where she and her twin brother Jacob (Christian Byers) are considered abnormal by parents Grace (Essie Davis) and Osmond (Russell Dykstra). Life changes, however, when Sunni (Keisha Castle-Hughes), the tough girl from the local public school with the cool mum, Mary (Toni Collette) befriends her.

Review by Louise Keller:
What's cool is the question raised in this occasionally offbeat comedy in which Esther Blueburger makes the journey from the land of the nerds to the ultra cool in a surprising leap. First time writer director Cathy Randall (previously a tv soap scriptwriter) developed the project in Los Angeles, after winning a scholarship in its Feature Development Program. The film starts slowly, but gets an energy burst when Keisha Castle-Hughes' enigmatic spiky-haired Sunni with a single earring and provocative gaze appears onscreen. The shifting perspective and perceptions are what gives the film its edge as Esther, played by impressive newcomer Danielle Catanzariti, slips unobtrusively from her lonely, claustrophobic existence to Sunni's unpredictable, unstructured world.

When we first meet Esther, she is an observer: days at her snobbish private school are spent watching the other students from afar. She has a relationship with her weirdo twin brother Jacob (Christian Byers), who spends his time calculating things, like the rate his sister's teeth will shift under her braces. But her only real friend is a fluffy little duckling, who she names 'Normal', which is what she aspires to be. The family's Judaism is an additional differentiation and Esther cannot find one single girl from school to come to her Bat-mitzvah. That's when Sunni, who represents everything Esther is not, comes into the picture and changes her life.

Randall creates a tangible contrast between Esther and Sunni's world. There's a lack of communication in Esther's dysfunctional family life (Essie Davis and Russell Dykstra are intentionally stilted and aloof as her appearance-conscious parents), while Sunni's mum Mary (Toni Collette) is spontaneous and warm as the hip, strip-club pole dancer. As surely as the balance tilts on a see-saw, so does Esther and Sunni's behaviour. At 103 minutes, the film would benefit by a little nip, but overall it's a sweet encounter and one that is as unexpected as the film's title.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

HEY HEY IT'S ESTHER BLUEBURGER (M)
(Aus, 2008)

CAST: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Danielle Catanzariti, Toni Collette, Essie Davis, Russell Dykstra, Christian Byers, Jonny Pasvolsky

PRODUCER: Miriam Stein

DIRECTOR: Cathy Randall

SCRIPT: Cathy Randall

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anna Howard

EDITOR: Dany Cooper

MUSIC: Guy Gross

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nell Hanson

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studios

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 20, 2008







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