Inspired by true accounts and personal interviews of London's refugee communities, Esther follows the story of an intelligent young girl with big dreams. As the story begins, we see her hardened by poverty and frustrated by the people around her who accept their lot in life and keep their heads down. She views them with contempt and disowns them. Esther uses her cunning and resourcefulness to get ahead in life and when we next see her, she is married to the ruthless and ambitious John Xerxes, the two are an unstoppable power couple. John gains immense popularity campaigning for PM with harsh anti-migrant policies and Esther’s people face forced deportation. Suddenly, we see her Uncle Mort appear, begging her to stand against Xerxes at the next rally. He reveals Esther’s secret history and how her freedom fighter parents had given their lives for her people. When he leaves, we watch Esther struggle with herself, she now understands why her people live constantly in fear and is torn between her duty and protecting herself and her ambitions. The final scene begins as Mort sits watching Esther intensely on the TV, we close in onto Esther herself, waiting for her decision.
Esther modernises the Book of Esther, setting the biblical story of the exiled and displaced Jews amongst today’s refugees of war who live among us. Rather than letting her situation overcome her, our dynamic protagonist takes charge of her life and just as the biblical Esther was unexpectedly chosen to be Queen, Esther in the film marries one of the country’s most influential men. Both Xerxes are on the verge of passing a law that potentially threatens the lives of Esther’s people, with the Jews threatened with death and the refugees faced with deportation (which is essentially a death sentence for many upon returning to a country that now views them as traitors). Despite this, both Esthers initially refuse Mort/Mordecai’s plea to intercede for her people, the biblical Esther afraid of losing her life and modern-day Esther not willing to give up the life she had worked hard to achieve. Despite great personal risks, both are eventually convinced that they’re placed in their unique positions ‘for such a time as this’. Biblical Esther requests that her people pray and fast for her and we see modern-day Esther’s people praying and hoping as they watch her during the momentous rally.