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.

Film Review: Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror is a visually sumptuous film. Tarsem Singh’s version of the Snow White fairy tale has enough substance to entertain audiences of all ages.

In charge of the kingdom, the Queen is jealous of the youth and beauty of her stepdaughter Snow White. She banishes the young princess to her room, eager to be seen as the fairest in all the land. When Snow White sees the outside world, she is convinced the Queen must be stopped. Snow White needs some help in her plan to reclaim her birthright…

Mirror Mirror is light in tone, which should enamour audiences. The film does not take itself too seriously, the campy feel hits the right balance been joviality and keeping the story engaging. The script is amusing, there is plenty of humour throughout the duration. Pacing is not as tight as it could be, however.

Although it retains the general plot, Mirror Mirror updates the Snow White fairy tale. Singh’s adaptation is somewhat more modern than the Disney version at least. There is a greater emphasis on the power and responsibility of Snow White; she is not quite the passive princess of previous incarnations. There is also more of an accentuation on the importance of working together, which is surely a good message for younger viewers.

Everything about Mirror Mirror is pleasing to the eye. The film features a highly stylised look, something of a trait the director. The art design, costumes, sets and effects are quintessential fantasy in their removal from reality. Colour is used extremely well in the film, particularly in the costumes of Snow White and the Queen.

Julia Roberts is a little irritating as the Queen. The actress had obviously been told to ham it up. Lily Collins is a delight as Snow White, looking every inch the part. Armie Hammer takes to light comedy surprisingly well as Prince Alcott. Nathan Lane provides good support as Brighton.

Mirror Mirror should prove to be enjoyable viewing for both family audiences and those looking for a light and amusing distraction.