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Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger

Year: 2008
Production Co: Tama Films
Director: Cathy Randall
Writer: Cathy Randall
Cast: Danielle Catanzariti, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Toni Colette, Russell Dykstra
This Australian coming of age comedy was being flogged mercilessly to the media for months beforehand, local backers Disney trying their hardest to make it another Muriel's Wedding.

The result isn't quite as dire as Hating Alison Ashley (which is what it looked like), but it's nowhere near Muriel or Priscilla.

It's really the for-the-millionth-time story of a kid trying to fit in amid the pressures of being cool, parents' expectations, boys/girls and finding her identify. Young suburban Melbourne Jewish schoolgirl (Catanzariti) starts out as a Daddy's girl at a private school but quietly rebels against an (apparently) repressed home life by sneaking into the local public school instead and falling in with rebel Sunni (Castle-Hughes) to learn who she is and what she wants.

The director has thrown everything into the melting pot; laughs, tears, outbursts at parents, inappropriate sex, shocking death and everything else grab a scene as their own, and it has everything from high symbolism (Esther deconstructing herself with her poem of saying her surname repeatedly with letters moved from the end to the beginning) to outlandishness (the imagined stage-play of her life as she gives an inarticulate boy a blow job in a back alley).

The cast - including the young star - are eager and likeable, but the film has too many flaws. One is the see-what-sticks approach, leaving it toneless and all over the place.

Another is that in depicting a Jewish family, the producers and writer might have alienated large numbers of audiences they could have had. Not that there's a racial element, but there are a lot of Jewish customs and idioms that the movie gives too much emphasis on when large portions of Australian viewers wouldn't relate to them.

The idea would be more at home in a more highly concentrated Jewish population, or concentrate on simply not fitting in because you're different, not because you're different of such an obscure sort (in this country, anyway).

To be fair to the movie however, I'm not the target audience. As I write this I'm nearing forty and every waking moment is concerned with paying the mortgage and putting food on the table for my daughter, so frankly the sort of self-indulgent soul searching we all do at that age is a universe away from me know and I have no more respect for it.

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