12 August 2019 | gregus-45103
An engaging film but flawed
An engaging portrayal of a person who has lived her life in a state of perpetual disappointment and sees in her young student a chance for escape. Her life has never risen above the mediocre and she sees her children as being destined for this same fate. Seeing in her student the greatness that has always eluded her, she attempts to nurture it and live vicariously through his talent. She views capitalism, manifested in the father of her student, as a system that can stifle intellectualism & creativity and it will be his inevitable integration into this system that kills off his innate talent.
Maggie Gyllenhaal delivers a stellar performance and carries the film. Gael Garcia Bernal never manages to elevate his character above the thinly drawn cliché of the sleazy, pretentious professor. The young actor playing Jimmy does an acceptable job, but he is presented as nothing more than a catalyst for the central character's motivations.
However, the action which she takes in the 3rd act, seems, given her motivations, too reckless and stupid. It is never convincing that this character would behave in this manner, which unfortunately means the ending of the film falls flat