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It is never a good sign when a film’s release date gets bumped around which is what unfortunately happened with this high school drama. Yet while it may not be a good sign, the film getting released only a few months behind schedule isn’t so bad. Then throw in director Tony Kaye (American History X) alongside a cast with Adrien Brody, Marcia Gay Harden, Lucy Lui, James Caan, and Christina Hendricks, and you realize that this can’t be bad at all and simply has to be a respectable hit.
This weekend the film is receiving an extremely limited release, but if people flock to the theaters it will hopefully receive an increase in theaters. Already the critics are showing positive signs, but no one seems to be blown away as you would expect from the names attached to the project. Rotten Tomatoes has the film at 71% at the moment, however with only 17 votes in, the final consensus is still a little hard to measure. Although they may not be head over heels for the film, the positive feedback should be good news for the indie film, whose release got bumped around and for a while seem it would never see the light of day.
In the film, viewers follow the plight of substitute teacher, Henry Barthes (Brody), as he wanders from school to school. The constant drifting allows him to avoid emotional contact with people and therefore makes it possible for him to hide out in the open. This all changes when he gets a subbing position at a particular high school where he uncovers endless emotion from three women he meets. The high school he is stationed at is filled with the angsty and hopeless, yet somehow Barthes becomes a role model to these fractured souls. During all this, the once cynic man realizes that others desire and fear the same things as he does and this hope from his connections allow him to see beauty in an apparently loveless world.
There is plenty of positive things to take from the synopsis, and with Brody at the helm you know the troubled Barthes will have depth and darkness like no other. The other actors seem to have much to work with as well: Hendricks plays the role of Ms. Madison whom Brody makes a deep connection with, Lui has the role of the school counselor with a dark past and a deep frustration for her work, and the many others in the cast portray teachers and administrators who seemed to have lost hope in both themselves and their work.
Last year the film premiered at the 10th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, but it fell off the radar for a little while. Now I am ecstatic about this film finally premiering under a limited release this weekend. While I am not naive enough to believe that this film will receive a wide release, considering its dour subject matter, I am optimistic that the film could receive a wider release in more cities across America. This indie has yet to get the attention it truly deserves.
Many will wish to see 21 Jump Street and Casa de mi padre with their more high profile leads, but do not forget this ensemble drama or the fellow indie release of the week, Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Both films have a lot to offer with leads we don’t see nearly as much as we should. Enjoy all the lovely weather we are having and if you are sick of the sun just swing by your local movie theatre to check out one of the films premiering this weekend. Happy movie going!