Film Review: The English Teacher

The English Teacher

The English Teacher is a light comedy drama that most viewers will find suitably entertaining.

Linda is a high school English teacher lives a predictable existence; hoping to inspire kids during the day and getting lost in books in the evening. When a former student returns to town, Linda is keen to help him realise his dream of becoming a playwright…

Director Craig Zisk’s The English Teacher is an adequately convincing feature debut. The film focuses on teacher Linda, and how a chance encounter shakes up her monotonous life. The plot of the film is rather meagre, concentrating on a love triangle of sorts.

There is comedy to be found in The English Teacher, although this tends to be light humour rather than all-out hilarity. Zisk keeps the tone light for the most part, shifting to a more reflective atmosphere for the final third. The use of a narrator is a good introduction to the character of Linda and the themes of the film. It is nevertheless overused in the film’s finale.

The strength of The English Teacher is in its protagonist. Linda is an interesting character; one written with suitable nuance. It is a shame that the film is not more of a character study, as it would have been more engaging to explore Linda’s traits and life in greater depth. Given that the narrative offering is light, The English Teacher would have been stronger to concentrate on Linda rather than the foibles of high school drama.

Julianne Moore is convincing as the literature-engrossed Linda. Nathan Lane brings some laughs as fellow teacher Karl, while Greg Kinnear and Lily Collins are given little to do. Michael Angarano is well cast as the young playwright Jason.

With its quasi-appropriation of literary tropes, The English Teacher indicates sharpness behind the fluff. It is a shame that the film does not capitalise on this.

The English Teacher is out on DVD from Monday 3rd March 2014.