Home Reviews Films Movie Review: THE LESSON (2023): Subtle family drama ends with a pleasant surprise [Tribeca 2023]

Movie Review: THE LESSON (2023): Subtle family drama ends with a pleasant surprise [Tribeca 2023]

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Movie Review: THE LESSON (2023): Subtle family drama ends with a pleasant surprise [Tribeca 2023]

Richard E Grant Julie Delpy Daryl McCormack The Lesson Tribeca

Lesson review

teaching (2023) Movie review BY 22nd anniversary Tribeca Film Festivalor movie run by Alice Troughtonwritten by Alex MacKeithand playing Julie Delpy, Daryl McCormack, Richard E. Grant, Stephen McMillan, Crispin LettsAND Thomas Spencer.

A young author navigates uncertain rules while caring for the son of the famous writer he admires teaching.

Aspiring novelist Liam Sommers can’t believe his luck when famous author JM Sinclair hires him to tutor his son Bertie in preparation for his Oxford entrance exams. Apart from two brief scenes, the first and last, the story takes place exclusively on the Sinclair properties. One can immediately sense the hidden restraint and gothic undercurrent – a blanket of Victorian decor stretched far over the bucolic tranquility. Even the sharp formality of Ellis, the only butler and servant, has the family’s best-kept secrets unspoken whenever he appears.

This atmosphere is at odds with Liam’s open and intelligent nature, but Liam nevertheless stands firm against Sinclair’s patronizing generosity and the resigned, sullen stoicism of Bert, who is also oppositional within the confines of a young man. college bound.

However, Liam cottons on to the landlady, Hélène – and why not? It’s easy to admire this down-to-earth matron, but upright and dignified, as statuesque as middle age allows. She offers Liam a relatively warm welcome, even as she hands over the contract documents for his signature. He begins to rely on her confidential stuff, honesty (by this family’s standards), eventual intimacy, and eventually, when things get suspicious, her advice.

It is not long before we discover (after a series of hints) the dimness of this family, and not particularly unusual: Felix, an older son who showed so much promise, had drowned in the nearby pond a few years before. Ordinary people comes to mind in rather brief fashion—the unresolved issues of upper-middle-class grief, but quickly superseded by the more immediate issues at hand.

Liam has two characteristics of particular value to the Sinclairs. The first brought Liam to Sinclair’s attention when he was looking for a teacher – an almost photographic memory, which later proves invaluable. The second was when Sinclair ran into a printer problem: Liam’s near-professional-caliber tech savvy, learned from being around his IT wizard father. Meanwhile, Liam makes significant progress with Bertie, both as a teacher and as a friend, to JM’s bemused delight and Helena’s silent delight.

Ms. Troughton stages the camera angles very well in general, but she uses two extraordinary visual devices in particular that seem to stand out.

The first are the shots from looking in the window from the outside – people writing, reading and other ordinary activities. But one shows Liam witnessing an explicit sexual act between JM and Hélène, who sees it and responds with a smile, cheeky and sly, just for him. We find that means come here for Liam, but for the audience he serves as a proxy beyond the voyeur; he symbolizes the walls of honesty behind which a peeping Tom must find much of this family’s deeper emotional interaction.

The second involves mirrored images, the reflective surface that bisects the frame—a gallery mirror where she hangs the artwork (Hélène is an art dealer and curator), her image reflected in the glass panel, and so on. It is curious that Hélène occupies most, if not all. Could this be another symbol of honesty – the persona for the show, in addition to the secret one, foreshadowing the duplicity she later discovers?

Events take a darker turn when JM and Liam go beyond their contract into troubled waters. They agree to read and critique each other’s fiction: Liam’s first; The first JM in a very long time, so he says, of decent quality. Each offered less praise than the other expected, and the plot descends into a frantic series of crashes and starts, close calls and near misses.

Because the pace picks up so much from this point, following the confusing sequence of events (centered on a missing manuscript) is a challenge to say the least. But the bottom line is this: Felix is ​​ultimately at the center of it, and Hélène fabricated everything that happened – supporting and seducing Liam and then deceiving and betraying him, seeking retribution for an eye visited by JM and more after posthumously extolling his talents, everything – before Liam had set foot in the house. The supporting cast members play off each other very well, especially towards the end when the pace picks up, but Grant’s relentlessly progressive panic attacks deserve special mention.

At the end of the day, The Lesson turned out to be a regenerative genre hybrid. It begins as something like one of those old-timey English drawing-room dramas, bounding hard and fast into a strange kind of murder mystery.

Here’s something to think about: Could ‘Liam Sommers’ have been a deliberate variation of Will Somers, Henry VIII’s talented and honest Fool, and perhaps the most famous con artist in history, or just a coincidence?

ASSESSMENT: 8/10

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