The Teacher (Jan Hrebejk, 2016): Slovakia, Czeck Republic

Reviewed by Nodoka Kobayashi. Viewed at Metro4 Theaters, Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2017.

The Teacher is based on a real story about one abnormal teacher at a middle school. The entire story moves at a fast pace that gives audience no time to sympathize themselves but gives anxiety for what would happen next. It is a really entertaining movie throughout the whole.

The teacher Mrs. Maria takes attendance in the beginning of class, and asks the students their parents’ occupations. Definitely, something strange is going on in the classroom, but we are not yet sure what exactly is the problem at this time. As the story develops, students are getting involved into the problems in each way. At the very first scene we can see the school both daytime and nighttime, usual aspect with many children and the flipside with parents. The contrasts gather viewers’ attention enhancing the curious what is this situation.

The teacher Maria’s background is not revealed in this film, so we just enjoy the awkwardness between Maria and the families getting involved in negative ways. We might be able to logically recognize each of the student’s situation and why they just obeys her because this story basically focuses on what happened and how things turnes out in the end by the incidents that “the teacher ” occured. Therefore, I enjoyed this movie as an entertainment because I did not feel sorry until one girl commits suicide because of the curious why the teacher do such things to her students is getting bigger. The mysterious unopened past of Maria got me excited to watch this film. In addition to this, this story focuses on 3 families that has something to do with her. The simple structure and the back and forth time jump is exciting to see.

The main character of Maria is acted like she is a normal teacher with authority and kindness, and she pretends to be a miserable one as a weak woman even though she is more like a devil.

The lighting in every scene shows the difference between their positions. One student’s father is asked to smuggle a cake to her friends in other countries. He comes to school to politely apologize that he cannot do that for her because it is illegal. The direct light from sun brights on Maria’s face through window but the father has hunchback and gets very defused light on him because of the posture and the position he is sitting. This kind of lighting makes Maria looks much more creepy.

I recommend this film to see how the teacher Maria messed the lives and feelings of people in the classroom.The case dealed with in this film is heavy and unusual, but the way it edited is hilarious that is worth to see more than one time.

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