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  • Gareth Crook

Yentl (1983) - 7/10

I’ve never seen Yentl. I shy away from musicals, pretending I don’t like them, but honestly, I love a good one. Is this a good one? In Poland at the turn of the century, a young girl, Yentl (Barbra Streisand) wants to study the Talmud, but as the book seller calls out around the square “Story books for women, sacred books for men”, it’s clear she’s got her work cut out. With the support of her father, a house full of books and the power of song, Yentl strives to find answers and her place in the world. On her father’s death, she finds her life at a junction. To follow tradition, get married, have children or take a different path. You know, it’s going to be the latter right? Cutting her hair, she sets out posing as a boy. Singing through her grief and struggles. With a new name, in a new village, she makes new friends in Avigador (Mandy Patinkin) and Shimmele (Allan Corduner), who help her get into Yeshiva to study. It’s all rather wonderful and uplifting for a period drama made in the 80s. The question is of course, how long before she’s discovered. That’s what makes this a good musical, not the music, although that’s fine, it’s the gender stereotypes and how Streisands character navigates them. How she directs it too, which is deftly through a story that twists as the deception deepens and an unlikely love triangle forms with Hadass (Amy Irving). Steisand is brilliant. She carries this, the way Yentl (or Anshel) carries the hopes and dreams of those around her whilst fretting over her secret burden. It’s funny, entertaining, thought provoking and Streisand’s singing is stunning.



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