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USA: Empire Pictures
Cast: Summer Phoenix, Ian Holm, Fabrice Desplechin, Frances Barber, Ian Bartholomew, Emmanuelle Devos, Akbar Kurtha, Anton Lesser, Kika Markham, Berna Raif, Paul Regan Claudia Solti, Laszló Szabó, Philadelphia Deda, Sef Naaktgeboren, Hilary Sesta, Yusuf Altin, Marwa Zahri, Tina Nicols, Kyri Kambanis, Claire Lubert, Arnold Brown, Leon Lissek, Christopher Logan, Jackie Skarvellis, Ralph Nossek, Jon Rumney, Samantha Lavelle, Loizos Loizou, Claudine Thomas, Monty Ogus, Paul Ritter, Tony Vogel, Maurice Kanareck, Theresa Boden, Maggie McCarthy, Derek Smee, Zita Sattar, Tony Brace, David Thomson, Ramin Gray, Gregory Gudgen, Natasha Pollard, Anita Leaf, Alison Gaudion, Rupert Fawcett, Kenneth Hazeldine, Adrian Hammond, Crispin Letts, Anne Firbank, Deirdre Doone, Samantha Holland, Michael Muller
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Countries: France / UK
USA: 140 mins
USA Release Date: 1 March 2002
Set in London at the end of the 19th century, Esther Kahn (Summer Phoenix) lives in the East End with her parents. They are Jewish immigrants and her father is a tailor. Esther leads a quiet, introverted life which has left her cold and distant with little feeling.
However one day Esther goes to the theatre and that awakens and excites her, stirring deep feelings within to the extent that she decides to become an actress. Beginning with a theatre apprenticeship she soon finds her destiny in life and meets Nathan Quellen (Ian Holm) an experienced actor who takes her under his wing and teaches her how to act. This in turn teaches her how to start living her life and from there her career takes off.
She meets a playwright, Phillippe Haygard (Fabrice Desplechin), who is attracted to her and they become lovers. He helps her career along by getting her an important role in a theatre production but on the opening night ends their relationship. Esther is panic stricken and all her past fears and troubled childhood come rushing to the fore.