Thursday, 8 May 2014
The English Teacher
Not all movies need to hit me in the face for me to like them. The English Teacher is a case in point: it never strikes as the world's finest movie, but it delivers sophisticated comedy/drama in a short and concise manner. Even better, it features some very good acting.
Our hero, the English teacher, is Linda (Julianne Moore). A Philadelphian, Linda is that sort of a person that never found a suitable mate and after a while simply gave up on the idea. Instead, the focus of her entire life is her high school job. Alas, as one can expect from high school kids, the pupils do not necessarily see eye to eye with the teacher when it comes to appreciating lessons' subject matter.
A catalyst for change comes in the shape of Jason (Michael Angarano), an ex student of Linda who went on to study literature in New York but is now back home. Jason considers his thus far short career a failure, and is about to follow the path his doctor father (Greg Kinnear) paved for him and become a lawyer instead. Jason's only legacy from his previous life is a play he wrote, which Linda immediately falls in love with. With the help of the school's drama teacher (Nathan Lane) Linda gets the play approved by the school principle. A full blown school production follows, and soon Linda will find that she fell for more than a play.
There is nothing we haven't seen before in The English Teacher, yet the affair does not feel pre-chewed. I actually found it quite fresh, probably through the aid of Moore's trademark superb acting. There is some insight to be had about the value of literature in our lives but also the value of looking life through a realist's eye. Present, too, are hints at how hard it is to be a woman in a world where women are judged to a different, harsher, scale than man. Most of all, there is a nice love triangle comedy thing going on here that never overtakes common sense.
Overall: I'll go on a limb here and say that despite the small time aspirations of this title, I liked it 3.5 out of 5 crabs much. Not every movie has to be serious or full of depth; I like to show my appreciation when a movie designed to entertain also happens to be a good film.