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USA 1983
Directed by
Barbara Streisand
134 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Yentl

It's great to see sisters doing it for themselves but not too great if they don't know when to stop. Barbra Streisand's feature film directorial debut is both a commendably strong feminist statement and a case off star narcissism.

The gauzily sentimental and overlong film is an adaptation of an Isaac Bashevis Singer story about a Jewish girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to enter religious training. Quite something in the world of Jewish patriachalism although the idea of of Streisand as a male seems as tenable as Dustin Hoffman as an SS storm-trooper. Anyway, Babs works her way through twelve unmemorable numbers as she fights the conflicting emotions of being a woman in a man's world. I'm not familiar with Streisand's music as a MOR pop diva but I suspect that this film is stylistically comparable, romantically idealized and over-produced.

Certainly this was an important project for Streisand and it is a film that is worth attention if one's looking for a distinctively female directorial sensibility. However, that this won an Oscar for its original score (music by Michel Legrand, lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman) was arguably simply just good luck as the only opposition was The Sting II and Trading Places.

 

 

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