‘A Teacher’ Movie Review – One-Sided
Nobody is perfect. That also doesn’t mean everybody’s imperfections are okay. In the case of A Teacher, the imperfection is a pretty big one – a female teacher carrying on an affair with one of her senior male students – and it’d seem foolish to justify her actions. Still, it’d be interesting to see her as a character that isn’t so, well, flawed. I can picture that being a jarring and uncomfortable movie. However, it is only an uncomfortable movie (rightly so) and it fails to create a main character that is anything but weak…despite a pretty strong performance by its lead.
A Teacher is a short 75 minutes long, but that’s not the strangest part about the format. By starting the story knee-deep in the relationship, it doesn’t allow any backstory to the inappropriate relationship. Interestingly, it ends in a similar fashion, meaning the story basically shows us a snapshot of the overall storyline.
The main character is a high school English teacher named Diane Watts (Lindsay Burdge). Like I’ve mentioned, she’s in an intimate relationship with a high school senior named Eric Tull (Will Brittain). There’s not a whole lot more than that.
From the outside, you could guess the movie might explore ideas of the old adage: “age is just a number.” However, Hannah Fidell (We’re Glad You’re Here) brushes this off and instead focuses just on Diane’s mental stability. This isn’t a bad idea necessarily because, let’s face it, there’s probably something wrong there.
However, to make the character fully-formed, it’d make a lot of sense to show shades of the good and bad. Besides her teaching ability, there’s not a whole lot worth sympathizing over. However, I keep going back to this idea and sighing heavily. Of course we shouldn’t sympathize with a statutory rapist.
So I guess this ambiguity is a somewhat refreshing piece of drama. It’s certainly unlike most things we see.
Uniqueness alone can’t help A Teacher, though, because the story is ultimately one-sided. It’s 75 minutes of Diane. Not only do they fail to explore the other person in the relationship, but they fail to fully explore Diane! There’s a throwaway scene with her brother implying her family life isn’t good, but that’s the one mention. Besides that, we have no idea how or why she became unstable.
Then, she starts to act really stupid and it becomes more frustrating than groundbreaking. I’m all for unhappy endings – as morbid as that sounds – but A Teacher doesn’t do enough to deserve the ending. Does a movie need to deserve an unhappy ending? You betcha. It’s no different than a happy ending.
In closing, Burdge may play an unhappy, and ultimately unstable, thirtysomething woman with as much gusto as possible. However, the story only gives us glimpses of a huge conflict that needs a whole lot more. Hannah Fidell’s A Teacher, like most movies, does a couple things right, and while the wrongs aren’t as egregious as the main character’s acts, they’re close enough.
A Teacher is out in limited release and has been available On Demand since August 20th. Check it out if it sounds like an interesting movie.
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