Director: Craig Zisk
Running time: 1 hour and 33 minutes
The English Teacher is the story of an English teacher, her old student and his play. Linda (Julianne Moore) is a high school English teacher that lives a pretty ordinary life until she runs into her old student Jason (Michael Angarano) and gets a look at his play. Now she is determined to get "The Chrysalis" produced along with the help of Jason and Carl (Nathan Lane),the drama teacher. But things don't go as expected. What will happen to the play? And what will happen to Linda Sinclair?
I like Julianne Moore and she was one of the reasons (the other one was Gregg Kinnear) that i started watching this movie. And unfortunately i can't say I'm glad.
But first thing's first. There were some positive things about "The English Teacher" that are worth mentioning. A big part of the movie was Kinnear's , Dr. Sherwood's, relationship with his son Angarano, or Jason as was the character's name. Their relationship is obviously damaged but what was very interesting and what i really appreciated was that it wasn't all blamed on the father or all on the son as we see in many films these days.They both made mistakes and they were both to blame and that was depicted nicely in the movie. It was an element that made "The English Teacher" more realistic and relatable, in my opinion.
I, also, really enjoyed Nathan Lane's character, Carl. Carl is the drama teacher that tells stories about how he met famous theater directors and producers and how they all saw a rare talent in him. I saw Carl as a very common and everyday kind of person in the way he tried to cover up his own insecurities and fears by trying to impress others with made up over-the-top stories. I feel that Carl as a character is someone very flawed and very human that exists in all of us. More in some and less in others. One incident in the movie that stands out about Lane's role is when he confessed to lying about how he met some famous theater guy (i can't remember who) but still by the opening night he was back to his old tricks.
Now regarding the weaknesses of the movie and the main characters. My main problem was that non of the characters are developed, have any real backstories or have personalities to be honest.
Linda is portrayed as a simple, passionate woman who is stuck in a boring life but that's all we get. In order to understand her and understand her decisions (like why she slept with a former student) we need to know a little more about her life previous to the "incident", meaning the random one night stand, or more about her family and the people that contributed to who she is at this point or her interests, we know she likes literature but the movie doesn't even get deeper into that, or anything really. She is just blank and dull and the audience has no connection to her whatsoever. In fact the way this character is depicted in the film seems pretty unlikely. Why now?? Why this student?? Hasn't she met anyone talented before??What is so special about Jason??
Which brings me to my second point. Jason. Jason is obviously disturbed in some way so that he makes up such elaborate lies about his relationships with his father,his mother and anything else he lied about. What was his childhood really like and what really happened with him and his father?? and where is his mom?? Why he lied about her being dead?? and so many more questions i could ask but i won't because i don't to bore you.
The same goes for all the characters in "The English Teacher". No one has any substance, character development or backstory. But it doesn't just stop there. The infamous play is a very mysterious thing in the movie considering it's such a main thing.But that doesn't get developed either. What i've gathered from watching the movie is that there is a daughter, her mother is dead, she has an Irish stepmother, she has a father and at some point she is transformed into some kind of insect (?). The whole thing of "The English Teacher" is that there is a play that is so wonderful, so sad and so perfect that it needs to be produced but we don't know anything about it (except the bug thing). We are supposed to have such strong feelings regarding the play, like the movie characters, that we become filled with excitement, anxiety and worry about what will happen. But we're not. We don't care at all about what will happen with the play. Or at least i didn't.
And that's not the only problem about the play. How can it be so perfect and how can Linda and Carl love it so much but still change its ending?? How can they fight so hard to keep it intact but end up changing the most important thing about it and it still staying great?? I'm sorry but i don't buy it and it pisses me off a little bit because it's so unrealistic. You don't get a masterpiece from changing the ending of a play in order to make it safe to be a high school production. It doesn't work like that.
And finally, i found the whole love story between Moore and Kinnear unnecessary. It feels forced not because of the acting but because of its nature. And what i mean is that it is only incorporated to the story to keep the audience interested. Not every story has to have a love story and a happy ending. Most great stories don't.
In conclusion,"The English Teacher" has a nice concept and some funny bits and situations but it would be a million times better if it was an indie drama about a teacher, her old student and his play.