Blu-ray: Hester Street

HesterStreetBluray_optSTUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Joan Micklin Silver | CAST: Carol Kane, Steven Keats, Dorrie Kavanaugh, Doris Roberts, Mel Howard, Stephen Stimpell
RELEASE DATE: 3/17/15 | PRICE: DVD $24.95, Blu-ray $29.95
BONUSES: none
SPECS: PG | 90 min. | Drama comedy | 1.78:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

 

Hester Street is a surprisingly effective 1975 period drama-comedy, marking a fine feature debut by one of the era’s few female filmmakers, Joan Micklin Silver (Crossing Delancey).

Carol Kane in Hester Street

Carol Kane in Hester Street

In a Jewish neighborhood in turn-of-the-century Lower East Side of Manhattan, lively immigrant Jake (Steven Keats), a tailor, is driven court the lovely Mamie (Dorrie Kavanaugh), who wouldn’t mind spending her days with a successful man. Jake is so eager to put the ways of the Old World behind him, that he nearly forgets that he’s married—until his wife Girl (Carol Kane, Scrooged) and son (Paul Freedman) arrive from Russian to reunite as a family. As the overwhelmed Gitl tries adjust to life in America, she learns that Jake has been living a double life-and that he has his own share of problems when it comes to his career and future.

With a modest budget and no major stars save for rising character actress Carol Kane (who’s outstanding as the confused but ultimately fast-learning Gitl), Hester Street paints a fine portrait of a unique time in Jewish New York life. Shot in black-and-white, the film is nonetheless filled with period color and details, particularly the street life and its pushcart merchants and storefronts. No, it’s not overly polished, but the small-scale approach and authentic textures make up for that, as does the engaging story of marital and cultural conflict.

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.