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USA 1983
Directed by
Barbra Streisand
134 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars


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 of star narcissism.

The gauzily sentimental and overlong film is a musical version of an Isaac Bashevis Singer short 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  comely 41 year old Streisand isc convincing as a teenage boy would seem to be less than tenable even in such a blinkered environment. Anyway, Babs works her way through twelve lyrically and musically unmemorable numbers as she fights the conflicting emotions of being a woman in a man's world. Whilst being an unquestionably brilliant singer, Streisand's musical taste is unapologetically MOR and her highly emotive, romantically idealized and over-produced vocal style manifests itself visually in this lush-looking film .  .

Certainly Yentl was an important project for Streisand who had bought the rights to the story in 1974 and it is a film that is worth attention if one is 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 competition was from The Sting II and Trading Places.




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