Hester Street

Watch Hester Street

  • PG
  • 1975
  • 1 hr 29 min
  • 7.0  (1,822)

Hester Street is a 1975 independent film directed by Joan Micklin Silver and based on the novel Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto by Abraham Cahan. Set in the late 19th century, the movie tells the story of Jewish immigrants struggling to adjust to life in America in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Steven Keats plays Jake, a Jewish immigrant who has been living in America for several years while his wife Gitl (Carol Kane) and son arrive from Russia. Caught between his old-world values and the new opportunities America has to offer, Jake tries to balance his desire for success with his responsibility to his family, as he becomes caught up in an affair with a beautiful gentile woman.

Carol Kane's Gitl, meanwhile, is struggling to navigate the complex social codes of the new world, where assimilationist values clash with her strict religious beliefs. As the only Yiddish speaker in her new community, Gitl feels isolated and fearful, unsure of who to trust and how to communicate with those around her.

As the story progresses, Jake's conflicts with tradition become more pronounced, and his family is torn apart by his infidelity. Gitl, meanwhile, begins to find her feet in America, taking on menial work to support herself and her son, and forging new relationships with her fellow immigrants.

Throughout the movie, director Joan Micklin Silver paints a vivid and detailed picture of life in turn-of-the-century New York, with a particular focus on the challenges faced by immigrants trying to adjust to the demands of their new home. From the cramped living conditions of the tenement buildings, to the bustling streets packed with horse-drawn carts and busy traders, Hester Street immerses viewers in a world that is at once harsh and beautiful, full of struggle and hope.

One of the most striking aspects of the movie is its focus on the experiences of women, particularly Gitl's journey from a naive, vulnerable immigrant to a strong, independent woman who is willing to fight for her rights and her dignity. Carol Kane gives a standout performance as Gitl, bringing a depth and complexity to the character that makes her truly relatable and compelling.

The movie also explores the theme of assimilation, as the characters try to navigate the different expectations and values of their old and new homes. While Jake is desperate to succeed in America and shed his old traditions, Gitl clings to her faith and her identity, finding strength and resilience in her cultural heritage.

Overall, Hester Street is a moving and thought-provoking film that combines a timeless story of love, loss, and identity with a vivid sense of history and place. With powerful performances from its cast and expert direction from Joan Micklin Silver, it is a captivating portrait of a pivotal moment in American history, and a poignant reminder of the challenges and triumphs of the immigrant experience.

Hester Street is a 1975 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 29 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.0.

Hester Street
Where to Watch Hester Street
Hester Street is available to watch free on Tubi TV and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV Channels, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Hester Street for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 29 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.0  (1,822)