Teacher’s Pet (Film Review: “Cracks”)

The bewitching and enticing Eva Green proves that even predatory monsters can be pitied in Cracks, an erotic and intensely atmospheric period film set in a British boarding school for girls in 1934.

 

SnapShot Plot

At the elite St. Mathilda’s School on Stanley Island, wealthy families send their girls for the kind of education that will prepare them for their future places in proper British society. Among the dusty matrons on campus, the beautiful and enigmatic Miss G (Eva Green) holds court over a group of precocious and impressionable girls to whom she represents all that is daring, adventurous, and alive. They are members of Miss G’s elite diving team, and it’s clear from the start how desperate they are to please her, and that there is a definite pecking order among them, led by the team captain, Di (played truthfully by up and comer, Juno Temple). That is, until an exotic new student named Fiamma arrives, the daughter of a rich aristocrat in Spain. From the moment she lays eyes on her and sees the accomplished diver she is, as well the exotic European worldliness with which the girl carries herself, it’s evident that much more than a teacher’s interest is piqued in Miss G’s attraction to Fiamma. The former equilibrium of the team is thrown off balance as the other girls take note, perhaps too innocent to perceive the sexual undertones surrounding this new dynamic but clearly threatened by this interloper among them. What follows is a tension filled cat-and-mouse as poor Fiamma finds herself the scapegoat of the girls’ jealousies and the innocent prey to Miss G’s predatory advances. We also begin to understand the fragile, unraveling mind of Miss G herself, and to imagine her own troubled history at the school, left murky in our suspicions. Things can only get worse, and of course they do.

 

Parting Shot

This is an impressive debut by director, Jordan Scott (daughter of Ridley and niece of the late Tony Scott), whose screenplay was adapted from the novel by Sheila Kohler. And as strong as the performances are, the movie is also beautiful to watch, with lush cinematography by John Mathieson that seamlessly shifts from pastoral to sinister as the action becomes increasingly desperate. I especially liked the intense play of emotions among the girls, with and without Miss G’s participation but always mindful of her in their every move. There are several main themes in Cracks, not the least of which is the Cult of Personality: that formidable persona within a small community with the power to dictate codes of behavior, values, morals, life itself. And the lure of the Popular. . . the desperate need for acceptance in the desired group, and how there’s something so brittle and vulnerable about girls at this age that it can render them ruthless. And of course it’s about the historical taboos regarding homosexuality, as well as sexual oppression and Loss of Innocence.

I find myself thinking that in the end, maybe it is – as Miss G says – all about Desire.

Featured Image Courtesy of:  http://adysmiles.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/eva-green-in-cracks-movie-shots/

YouTube Trailer Courtesy of:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ea8J_pHNg7w

2 Comments

  • John Mancuso says:

    I just finished CRACKS and loved it. It was so atmospheric and beautiful to watch. Your description about desire to be accepted, cult of personality, etc…piqued my interest. I love that time of life.

    Hope you’re well! Happy 4th. Love, J and D

    • Norma says:

      I know I’m doing something right when I receive a ‘thumbs up’ from John & Daryl! Thank you so much for following NSP and sharing in the conversation. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

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