Esther Blueburger has thick glasses, parents who don’t understand her, a pet duck, and no friends at her hoity-toity school where her classmates are mostly blond and look identical. She and her twin brother are approaching their bar/bat mitzvah, a rite of passage that coincides with Esther’s inner turmoil. When befriended by Sunni, who goes to the local public school, Esther begins to blossom under the affirmation of friendship. Hilariously, she goes undercover and pretends to be a Swedish exchange student at Sunni’s school, hanging out with Sunni and her posse of “bad” girls and spending time with Sunni’s super-hip mom. On the road to greater self-awareness, Esther encounters kissing, sex, class differences, questions of loyalty and an indestructible urge to be herself.
Director Cathy Randall’s wacky/serious coming-of-age comedy mining the phenomenon of good girls going bad—or rather, finding themselves—sports sunlit, color-drenched production design, some movement sequences that Busby Berkeley would have been proud of and peerless acting by leads Diane Catanzariti (in her first feature role) as Esther, Keisha Castle-Hughes (quite grown up since her stunning debut in Whale Rider) and Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine; this year’s Mary and Max).
Randall was awarded a fellowship to the Los Angeles Film School’s Feature Development Program to create Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger. In 2003, her screenplay received an Australian Writer’s Guild award nomination for best unproduced screenplay, after which she teamed up with producer Miriam Stein. Randall was a writer for Home and Away, an internationally successful soap opera, and an intern at Tony and Ridley Scott’s production company Scott Free. Previous to her work in film, she was a journalist in Sydney.
—Nancy K. Fishman
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