THE ENGLISH TEACHER
BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
SEPTEMBER 15, 2013
What is with outsider point-of-view narration? Apart from being distracting and out of place, there’s just no need for it in most films, especially a comedy. Cheapening the experience and taking away from actually forming a character in front of us instead of telling us all about the character, the only film I truly loved outsider narration was “Stranger Than Fiction” because there was a reason, and it was hilarious. The voice-over from characters is a different story, as it often works much better, and its a voice we recognize and can become attached. Still, there’s simply no reason that “The English Teacher” needed to explain Linda’s (Julianna Moore) history with someone we never see and have zero connection. When Jason (Michael Angarano) returns home after going away to professional life, he runs into his old English teacher, Linda, who talks him into presenting his play as the next high school theater show.
The play begins to form success with the help of the drama teacher (Nathan Lane) and a gorgeous high school girl (Lily Collins). That is until Linda gets intimate with Jason on her desk. Despite sounding like a decent drama, director Craig Zisk straddles the comedic boundaries through most of the film and never allows for any real emotional connections to occur. Not a great showing from anyone involved, this is a very cut and dry dark comedy. We get to know Linda through the voice-over, but Jason remains a mystery even through the conclusion of the film. Lacking that emotional and character development, “The English Teacher” becomes just as absent as the play presented on stage, just successful actors moving through fake people’s lives, producing no real highlights, but rather a mundane and by-the-numbers exhibition.
May 17, 2013
(for language and some sexual content)
Myron I. Kerstein
Matthew E. Chausse