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Sundance '13 Review: A TEACHER - An Emotional Unraveling

Writer & Director: Hannah Fidell 

Cast: Lindsay Burdge and Will Brittain

Official Synopsis: A young Texas high school teacher's (Lindsay Burdge) affair with one of her teenage students (Will Brittain) begins as a seemingly innocent fling. But as the relationship continues, what started off as somthing simple becomes increasingly complex - and dangerous. Freshmen feather director Hannah Fidell takes us on an emotional roller coaster, as the once-confident teavher's psyche begins to unravel, revealing the warped emotions that drive her to bond - attempt to keep- this unusual relationship.

Performances:

Lindsay Burdge delivers a delicate and deep performance. Because it's very sparse on dialog, Burdge and newcomer Will Brittain have to communicate a lot of subtext. An example is a small thing, like changing her voice slightly to sound younger on the phone while talking to Brittain. Burdge has a noteworthy emotionally raw postcoital scene that shows the consequences of how a teenage boy reacts to an adult woman having an emotional break down.

Music:

The original music by Brian McOmber instantly puts you on edge and perfectly underlines the frantic internal emotions of Burdges. I was puzzled by the choice to end with a song not by McOmber. Why it does not end with more original music or just silence is puzzling and detrimental to the movie.

Story and Direction:

The story of a female teacher sleeping with an underage male student is nothing new. Most times when this type of tale is told it's melodramatic and full of telegraphed punches. A Teacher avoids this with its realistic feel and great cinematography and camera work by Andrew Droz PalermoA Teacher has a few jump cuts which work to great effect, but there are a few slow-mo moments that felt really weird because they had some ghosting strobe-ish effect. There are also some daydream jump cuts that felt oddly placed.

Similar To:

The camera work and tonal feel reminds me of Gus Van Sant's Elephant. Elijah Reyes, another editor at GeekTyrant, says it's got a Take Shelter vibe to it. 

Chances That You'll See It in Theaters: 

A studio might pick this up and give its editing a polish for a small release. More likely you're going to be able to watch it on Netflix.

 

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