US | 2013 | Directed by Hannah Fidell
Logline: A high school teacher’s life starts to unravel as she realises the affair she is having with one of her students is coming to an end and she is in too deep.
Diana (Lindsay Burdge) is making a terrible mistake, but the reality is that it’s too late. The audience knows this from the start. Diana knows this, but she can’t help herself. A Teacher is a thriller that burns slow like a drama. It’s a searing and sad tale of lust found and love lost with superb performances and assured direction.
Apparently based on the experience of the writer/director when she worked as waitress and was attracted to a younger patron, yet there is a topical relevance to the premise in recent crimes that have made worldwide news, most infamously that of American teacher Mary Kay Letourneau. Of course this kind of thing happens all the time, but what makes Hannah Fidell’s movie so compelling is that it presents the narrative almost exclusively from Diana’s point of view.
A Teacher is a study of female desire, regardless of morality. Lindsay Burdge is amazing in the role, especially in the scenes as she begins to lose control and breaks down emotionally. The the centre of her affection, the apple of her eye, her dangerous obsession, is Eric (Will Brittain), a handsome, effortlessly charming young man who is enjoying the moment, but as soon as cracks begin to form, he knows its time to jump ship.
The movie is great looking, shot mostly with available light, exuding a naturalism in mood, tone, performance, and production. It’s a brisk film, less than eight minutes in length, but long enough to establish a solid emotional core. Hannah Fidell knows when to linger, and it is in these moments where the essence of this forbidden love lies an uncomplicated beauty and sensuality, most notably in the sequence where Eric and Diana get out of Austin, Texas, for the weekend.
A Teacher broods and unfolds with a restraint that is both powerful and compelling. It is urgent and sexy, but the confliction and torment soon overwhelms, and the movie finishes a perfect collapse.
A Teacher screens as part of Sydney’s Possible Worlds Festival of American & Canadian Cinema, Saturday 10 August, 8.30pm, Dendy Newtown.