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Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Teacher

Being a teacher now I pay special attention to movies about teachers. It used to be that teachers were depicted in TV and movies as heroes (Glenn Ford in The Blackboard Jungle, Sidney Poitier in To Sir With Love, the TV series Lucas Tanner, Room 222, and The White Shadow) but for the last generation they've been depicted as losers and bunglers, or worse, sexual predators. In Hannah Fidell's A Teacher, it's the latter.

Of course, this is a woman teacher. Somehow we tend to give them more of a pass. A film about a male teacher having sex with a female student is automatically about a monster, as it should be. But female teachers and schoolboys are presented as more complicated, perhaps because most males would have loved to have had sex with their hot teacher.

In this film, Lindsay Burdge is the teacher. She's about thirty, single, and besotted with a senior boy (Will Brittain). We don't know how they got together--it would have been interesting to know who made the first move. They meet discreetly, because she's got a roommate and he has parents, so they fuck in her car, go to his brother's house when he's away, and then to his father's ranch. She can't get enough of him, even though she is fully aware of the career consequences should she be caught.

In many ways Brittain acts like the mature one, and I'm wondering if this isn't a bit sexist. Fidell wrote and directed the movie, but Burdge plays a character who is torn between not getting caught but also being unable to leave him alone. We wait the whole film (a slim 75 minutes) for the other shoe to drop, and it does, through her actions. We've gone on from feeling sorry about her and realize that she's a nut, while Brittain is never portrayed as anything but a hunk who makes eggs for her his older conquest after sex.

This is an extremely low-budget film, but much of it is shot in the dark. This was either for verisimilitude or to save on the electric bill. Nevertheless, I'd like to see people's faces in big scenes, not just hear them fumbling in the pitch black.

Fidell has made other films, and I'd be interested to see what their about. On an interesting side note, she is the daughter  of Linda Greenhouse, former Supreme Court reporter for the New York Times and one of my favorite writers.

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