18 December 2015 | bob the moo
Works almost despite itself
A blog I read described this film as a cross between David Lynch and John Hughes – a quite brilliant sentence which really does sum it up. The narrative seems a temp teacher taking a music lesson, having a bit of a breakdown, and sparking a coming-of-age moment as a whole. If that sounds accessible and familiar then it is worth noting that the film includes on screen graphics and centers around a Judas Priest track sung like a lament. Of course to get to this, you have to get through the opening series of teenage girls chatting and quoting Eleanor Roosevelt to an ET statute.
This oddity is throughout the film, and even in the concept it is the teacher who is trying to work through things, while the teenage girls have the confidence and smarts to help her out, not the other way around. Even writing this now it sounds like it will not be any good, and to be honest, the film does seem to be out to put you off with how odd it is. But yet it is actually compelling. I admit I found the first few minutes to be a little distracting as we are thrown into these episodes without context or introduction, but afterwards the main scene is delivered with conviction, style, and a surprising amount of heart (albeit in an offbeat way). The performances seem to understand the tone of the film and fit with it really well, with Estlin in particular being really strong in the teacher role.
The film works almost despite itself, and although it does walk a fine line (and may not do it for many), it did get the tone right and have that strong delivery that made it as engaging and enjoyable as it was odd.