Fitting In, Sticking Out

May 3, 2011 | By

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Having a bat mitzvah might not instantly make you a woman, but it can spur major life changes.

The title character of the 2009 Australian movie Hey Hey, It’s Esther Blueburger is a genetic and social oddball, a short Jewish girl in a school full of much taller and much blonder girls. Her family has assimilated into upper-class Australian life, but it’s not quite so easy for Esther to fit in.

Esther runs away in the middle of her own bat mitzvah celebration and, walking on the street, meets a girl named Sunni. She’s everything that Esther isn’t–independent, dangerous, and effortlessly cool. The next day, Esther follows Sunni to public school, under the guise of being a Swedish exchange student.

Before long, Esther’s the most popular girl in her new school. Meanwhile, Esther’s twin brother has a different coming-of-age experience. After his bar mitzvah, he transfers to a Jewish school, and begins wearing a yarmulke and eating kosher food. His life seems clean-cut and simple to Esther, whose new popular life becomes morally murky.

Hey Hey is a satire of Jewish adulthood and teen life, a movie where drama and comedy rub elbows, and it feels unflinchingly and unapologetically like what being a teenager is really like

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