Release Year: 1983
Director: Barbra Streisand
Screenwriter: Jack Rosenthal, Barbra Streisand, Isaac Bashevis Singer (story ‘Yentl, The Yeshiva Boy’)
Starring: Barbra Streisand, Mandy Patinkin, Amy Irving, Nehemiah Persoff, Steven Hill, Allan Corduner, Ruth Goringer, Jack Lynn
Ratings: 1 Oscar: Best Original Score. 4 Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Amy Irving), Best Art Direction, Best Original Song, Best Original Song. 2 Golden Globes: Best Director, Best Comedy/Musical. 4 Golden Globes nomination: Best Actress Comedy/Musical (Barbra Streisand), Best Actor Comedy/Musical (Mandy Patinkin), Best Orignal Score, Best Original Song.
In Poland in the early 20th century, Yentl (Barbra Streisand) lives with her father and secretly studies with him as women are not allowed to do so. When her father dies, Yentl sees no other solution to be happy, than to move to another town, dress as a boy and entera Jewish religious school. When she meets and befriends Avigdor (Mandy Patinkin) things gets complicated.
That Yentl both won Oscar and Golden Globes as well as Razzies shows the divided feelings this 1980s musical arises (Amy Irving is the first to be nominated for an Oscar and a Razzie for the same performance). Both written, directed and starring Streisand (A Star is Born, 1976), this, her directorial feature film debut, is something of a love child, which she struggled to get made for several years. The movie is loved by many because of its delicate approach to the subject and because of mega star Streisand, but unless you are a fan of the singer/actress Yentl can be a big bite to swallow. Occasionally whiny and constantly melancholic, the movie moves along slowly with an incredible uninspiring score, where the next song sounds like the last. Streisand, at the time 40 years old playing 17, has a good voice and does a decent job but it is hard to care. The best performances are given by Patinkin (The Princess Bride, 1987) and Irving (Carrie, 1976) who handles the sentimentally well and creates likable characters. The story is an important one to tell, especially in a world where several countries still differs between the rights of men and women but the viewing experience is highly effected by the dread you feel when yet another self pitying song begins. Fans of Streisand will be delighted, others should thread with great care.
When Barbra Streisan won the Golden Globe for best director, she became the first female ever to do so.
Picture copyrights: Warner Home Video