Saw this at a local film festival with little to no information about the movie whatsoever; little did I know this was going to become my favorite film of the year, and that's saying a lot given that 2011 has been a blast for moviegoers with new products by Woody Allen, Terrence Malick, Lars Von Trier and Clint Eastwood.
The movie revolves around an poignant substitute teacher (perfectly played by Adrien Brody) who arrives at a vicious school, where students go around bullying people (including the teachers) and basically throwing their lives directly to the dumpster
you know, teenage angst and such
I didn't grow up in the USA, so two important things I must say, a) I don't know if this is an accurate depiction of any given school in America and b) I can't relate with the overall chronicle, which brings me to my next point.
The beauty of this movie comes within the subtext, whether you can directly relate with the characters or not, the movie takes the message and widens its range so everyone is able to understand the actual meaning of the film. Let's clear things out, this film is not about a school or the basis of education, this is about trying our best not to give a damn about others as most of us just go around doing everything in our power to be happy ourselves with a lousy job, a loveless marriage, a constant sense of abandonment or basically a crappy life (all of the above portrayed marvelously in the film).
Films by Tony Kaye tend to be really visceral with a thin slice of optimism in the undertones, I think this time he just went mental about everything, in the end you'll leave the theater with a slight sense of hopelessness, almost as if you're destined to watch daily misery without the power to control anything but your own life, as if the only battle you must fight is the constant reminder that even when everything falls apart and slowly turns into dust, you can't change the world, you just have to avoid the world from changing you
This exposed stunningly in the final sequence of the movie.
Do yourself a favor, watch this film!