"Fourteen" is a very disturbing film. It is about children in their early teens, and their attitudes towards life and adults around them. The pace of the whole film is set from the very first frame. The scene moves along very, very slowly as a teacher is asking a young girl student why she burned the house for the school pets. In the next scene, the girl chases after and stabs the teacher in the back with pencils! From there, you simply know that this is no ordinary film.
The film then follows this disturbed young girl Ryo 10 years later when she herself becomes a junior high teacher. Her approach is non-authoritative, unlike the others. Yet, she too is finding difficulty connecting with her students. She meets up with an old classmate who is now having problems connecting with his piano student. Ghosts of bullied pasts disturb them to the present day in their strained relationships with their students. You'll be scared to see your kids this way. You'll be scared for your kids to have teachers like these.
This is a very unusual Japanese film. The strong message is there for the adults, but the delivery style of the director is so painfully slo-o-o-o-ow. There are scenes that stay on for endless minutes without anything happening. There are inexplicable scenes of violence among students that are so random with no coherence to the other scenes.
This is most definitely not for everybody. I do give it the stars for the message it is attempting to put across and for certain scenes which effectively do this. But overall, I did not like it because of its interminably glacial progression and frustratingly incoherent composition.
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