Movie Review: "The English Teacher"

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A star studded dramedy indie that has already hit Video-On-Demand and digital copy that will be opening in LA May 17th and other select cities May 24th.  If you haven’t heard of this film, I definitely recommend checking out the trailer.

Julianne Moore, Nathan Lane, Michael Angarano, Greg Kinnear and Lily Collins star in this official selection of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. The English Teacher revolves around Linda Sinclair (Julianne Moore), a lonely home body of a teacher who has been looking for someone to fulfill her life only to find it in the most unconventional way.  Linda runs into former student Jason Sherwood (Michael Angarano) who has returned to Kingston, Penn. after failing to make a name for himself as a writer on Broadway.

After Linda reads his unproduced play, she decides that she can bring it to fruition at Kingston High School with the help of past Broadway hopeful school drama teacher Carl Kapinas (Nathan Lane). Who better? It is Jason’s painful past that has Linda falling into lust for her former student that gets herself into trouble with the students, the school, and jeopardizes the integrity of the play.  Everything becomes a disaster when she begins to blame Jason’s father Dr. Tom Sherwood (Greg Kinnear) for influencing Jason’s loss of passion for writing and pushing him to go to law school.  Linda has to be careful though to not get herself mixed with a false reality.

Okay, the plot may actually not seem that exciting nor comical, but first time feature film director Craig Zisk (director of over 50 series including The Big C, Nurse Jackie, Entourage, The Office, Alias, Smash, Parks and Recreation, Shameless and Nip/Tuck along with executive producer of many others) does a profound job creating a very comical yet powerful go-home-happy film.  Nonetheless it’s Julianne Moore’s phenomenal performance that really makes this film something special.

Linda is an average English teacher that doesn’t tend to wear a lot of makeup and wears overly large glasses (a bit much perhaps, but fits her) who is a bit socially awkward, but isn’t afraid of men.  She goes on many dates, however all the men are “losers” one way or another.  Director Zisk actually does a clever thing by “writing” her thoughts of the guys on the screen in a red handwritten font to look like she is grading each man.  Most of these men are cameos in a quick montage of dates so the audience gets a quick glimpse into what her life out of the school is like.

You can tell that she wants something a little more with her life and finds her opportunity with her former student. Nathan Lane’s character Kapinas (mistakenly referred to as Ka-Penis often in the film) is a true wishful thinker that is tired of doing the same school plays year after year. Jason’s play is his chance to do something creative and different.   This is where Nathan gets to shine as that unsuccessful flamboyant former thespian that is itching to create something unique.

It is during rehearsals of the play when the chaos ensues and Moore’s character gets herself into sticky situations where she doesn’t always make the soundest decisions.  The pace of the story is perfect and everything seems to flow well.  You really start to feel for her character when she gets herself into trouble and, in most cases, I believe the audience will see they could make the same choices if they were in her shoes.

This movie has so many little areas and subplots that I cannot simple explain each direction the movie heads toward, but I can point out that every side story adds so much depth to what may have originally seemed like a standard story.

The English Teacher turns into a delightful dynamic movie that many will find themselves growing closer with the characters hoping for that perfect resolution even with no hope in sight.  For once this is a romantic dramedy that doesn’t lose interest in the outcome of the conflicts and leaves the audience pondering what on Earth could be the best way to end this film.  The movie finds a little twist in the tale leaving course of the direction it was headed and into one that may appear less possible, which in reality may be the one that is most realistic.  I guess this depends in the world in which you live though.

I found myself deeply invested in Linda and wanting her to make right.  By the end The English Teacher I actually felt quite satisfied with a giant grin on my face.  It was one of those pleasantly surprising movies that I didn’t expect to be left with such a feeling of… happiness. Perhaps some of that came from it just being well made film.

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