A Teacher

A Teacher

Editor’s Note: This review originally appeared as part of our Sundance 2013 coverage, and now A Teacher being released into theaters near you. This year’s Sundance Film Festival was rife with films about inappropriate sexual relationships, especially already-shocking May-December dalliances made still more inappropriate by uncomfortable power dynamics. Drake Doremus’ Breathe In tackled the almost-romance between an exchange student and her male guardian (one who was also her teacher), Liz W. Garcia’s The Lifeguard featured a twentysomething female lifeguard who takes up with a teen boy who lives in the condo complex where she works, and Anne Fontaine’s Two Mothers centered on adult female friends who both fall in love with the other’s son, ensuring that Hannah Fidell‘s A Teacher would fit quite neatly in the festival’s most trendy programming. But fortunately for the director/writer/producer, Fidell’s finely tuned feature is a stand-out film in an apparently crowded field. Unlike both Breathe In and The Lifeguard, Fidell’s film doesn’t track those first hesitant steps toward sex and romance between a disastrously (and often criminally) mismatched pair as, when we meet high school teacher Diana (an astonishingly good Lindsay Burdge) and her student Eric (Will Brittain), they’re already in the middle of their sexual relationship. All is not well, of course, and composer Brian McOmber‘s loud and abrasive (and we mean that in the best way possible) score, which queues up the second the film opens, makes sure we know that from the get-go. This is a doomed relationship in every sense.

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A Teacher

It’s hard being a teenager these days. There’s pressure that never existed before to excel in school, have a well-rounded social and extracurricular life and just have a general ability to get your life together all before you turn 18. Now add hormones to the mix and it’s all shot to hell. The first trailer for Hannah Fidell’s A Teacher seems to focus on what happens when one of those hormonal teens crosses paths with an teacher who hasn’t quite gotten a grasp on the boundaries you need to be able to set in adulthood. High school teacher Diana (up-and-comer Lindsay Burdge) is in the middle of an affair with one of her students (Will Brittain) and all is well until she decides to call the whole thing off. But she can’t deny her attraction to her young student, and the taboo nature of their fling causes her to mentally unravel. Juicy. I would make a comparison to 2009’s An Education, another film about an inappropriate romance between a teen and an adult, except I remembered that Peter Sarsgaard’s character didn’t have any feelings. Check out the newest trailer for A Teacher after the break.

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A Teacher

Perhaps the most unsettling thing about Hannah Fidell’s finely tuned debut feature A Teacher is that the film gets its audience to sympathize with the emotional landscape of one of the world’s most objectively evil offenders – a child molester who preys upon her own students. Fidell’s film, which debuted back in January at Sundance as part of the festival’s unspoken “inappropriate relationship” section to mostly positive acclaim skirts the issue admirably – teacher Diana (Lindsay Burdge) is pretty enough and young enough to seem “innocent,” student Eric (Will Brittain) appears willing enough and complicit enough to not seem damaged by the experience – making it easy to metaphorically squint at the film’s proceedings and believe they just might be okay. Eric, after all, is practically grown, and he so frequently appears to have the upper hand in the relationship. And Diana? She so often acts like one of Eric’s peers, as if she wasn’t his teacher, but some mousy classmate shocked to find that someone so handsome and so popular would deign to even look at her. That’s the trick of A Teacher, that you can almost talk your way out of it, that you can almost reason it, before walking out of the theater and shaking yourself clean and remembering that it’s not okay and you’ve been in the sort of fog that Diana herself must have felt. There’s all sorts of issues tied up in the pair’s relationship – legal ones and moral ones and emotional ones – […]

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Breathe In

Patterns tend to emerge when it comes to film festival programming – and not just when it comes to actors or filmmakers who return to show their newest works year after year, and not even as it applies to the type of films that always appear to be shoo-ins for the latest outing of a particular festival, but in a microcosmic way that’s unique to a single festival in a single year. Certain types of films end up getting made at the same time, and then they all seem to pop up at the same festival, unofficially turning a festival that’s not thematically arranged into one that features at least a mini version of a thematically grouped fest. This makes the concept sound a bit complicated, so let’s put it simply – it’s surprising how many films that address the same themes and tones and topics end up at the same festival at the same time, but it also happens all the time. (Anyone care to remember Sundance 2011, which featured a spat of cult-centric films?) At this year’s Sundance Film Festival another thematic pattern between new narrative films showed its face early, and it’s one that I grappled with way back then and still think about even now. Yesterday’s release of the trailer for the Kristen Bell-starring The Lifeguard only served to remind just how much the narrative features at Sundance 2013 were abnormally preoccupied with inappropriate relationships (yes, we’re talking the sexy kind of relationship), not just in […]

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A Teacher

The prevalent theme of this year’s Sundance Film Festival centered on characters engaging in highly inappropriate sexual relationships, with a number of films chronicling romances (of a sort) that blossomed between people who had some serious power inequality (basically, there were just a lot of teachers getting it on with their students), with Hannah Fidell‘s quietly haunting A Teacher absolutely blowing up the mini-genre. The film was a favorite of mine at the fest, mainly due to star Lindsay Budge’s remarkable performance as the teacher in question, one which will soon be available for more moviegoers to enjoy (well, you know, as much as you can enjoy an achingly uncomfortable film), thanks to Oscilloscope Laboratories. The Playlist has just rolled out an exclusive teaser trailer for the film, one that does quite a bit with very little, as the minute or so of footage on display comes without dialogue and relies heavily on some s-e-x-y imagery. But, be warned, A Teacher isn’t just sexy, it’s seriously awkward (in the best possible way). Get a glimpse of the forbidden passion of A Teacher after the break. Scandal!

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sxsw anticipated

SXSW 2013 begins in a couple days, and we couldn’t be more excited. By “we,” I mean FSR founder, publisher and beard-model Neil Miller, professional interviewer and lanky ladies man Jack Giroux, and myself. We’ll be descending on Austin this Friday to take in as much festival film-going, socializing and Alamo Drafthouse food as we possibly can. Of course we’re excited to see movies too. A lot of movies. And to give you an idea of what we’re most looking forward to film-wise the three of us have each listed our five most anticipated films of SXSW 2013 below.

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A Teacher

Briefly: Oscilloscope Laboratories has just announced via press release that it has picked up the North American rights to Hannah Fidell’s feature directorial debut, A Teacher. The Lindsay Burdge-starring slow burn debuted at the Sundance Film Festival just last month to significant acclaim. Oscilloscope is reportedly planning a theatrical, video-on-demand, and digital release for the film later this year. The film will also show at next month’s SXSW Film Festival. Can’t wait till then to get entangled in Fidell’s tale of a high school teacher gone mad, thanks to an affair with one of her students? Check out my review from Sundance, in which I praise both Burdge’s assured performance and Fidell’s tight script and strong grasp on tension.

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postmodem-borscht

Halfway through the 2012 Borscht Film Festival, a documentary screened titled Rising Tide: A Story of Miami Artists. In the film, which offers a basic guide to the growing art scene in the city, local paper sculptor Jen Stark acknowledges the way the digital world allows contemporary artists to flourish outside of major art centers. “Ever since the Internet came out,” she says, “ I never thought I had to be in New York or wherever.” It was a resonating quote to hear in the middle of an event so devoted to both regional communities and how they can come together as a broader, networked collective of filmmaking scenes. The central occasion for Borscht, which was held last weekend, is a screening of shorts either made by local filmmakers or commissioned by the Borscht Corporation and at least shot in Florida. Many of the films involve an overlapping of talent, and by the end you’ve seen 20 works that have given you a good sense of what’s happening with the underground “Miami New Wave.”

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published: 04.19.2014
A-
published: 04.19.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C

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