Film Review – A Teacher

A Teacher

A Teacher

Youth is attractive, no question. Our whole society often seems obsessed with the young. There is a vibrancy and passion that is seductive about the young. Everyone is at their most sexually attractive, energetic, and optimistic as teens. Appreciating what that youth has to offer is common, healthy, and normal. But when that very understandable thought process spills over into a relationship with an underage minor, that psychology is distorted. Romantic relationships between an adult and a teenager are simply a bad idea. Legally, morally, mentally, that gap in maturity is a crucial distance that is impossible to overcome. And it is that very desire that is portrayed in the new indie drama A Teacher.

Lindsay Burdge gives a remarkable performance as a high school teacher who is sleeping with one of her students. Their relationship has already begun before the film’s opening. We never get to see what first brought them together, other than that they are two attractive young people. Early on, the movie shows how their sexual encounters are illicit and exciting, and keeping the secret in class with glances makes the affair even hotter. There is no doubt that, for Burdge’s character, keeping it all on the down low is part of the fun. Will Brittain plays the young Eric Tull, with whom she is having sex. He is very much the typical teenage boy. He plays sports, goofs around with friends in class, flirts with girls his own age, and acts just as you would expect. But the teacher’s mindset is a case of arrested development. She often reacts to social situations like a teenage girl. She gets bored around other adults her own age at parties. She would rather sext with Eric than try a legitimate date with someone appropriate. There is a brief scene with her brother that hints at some long-ago family estrangement, but it’s only a hint. We are left wondering how she got to the point where breaking a taboo like this would be a good idea.

A Teacher Movie Still 1 Lindsay Burdge

As fun and exciting as this all is for her, with threats of being discovered becoming more serious, she eventually starts seeing Eric in a new light. Without histrionic speeches and typical big overwrought Hollywood scenes, we see her starting to realize how young he is. No matter how much he might seem ready physically, he doesn’t react as if actions have consequences. Adults have to deal with problems. Kids often don’t. This tension starts to really wear on her and drives her into a downward spiral.

The real center of A Teacher is Burdge’s performance. She is believable, intriguing, and sad in the title role. Her own mental maturity is stuck in teenage land. We see her thinking and working things out, often silently. She’s a very attractive lady who could forge an adult relationship if she wanted to. But her own psychosis seems to make her incapable of truly bonding in the adult world.

There is an inherent sexism that occurs when the media covers real life instances of this story. Mary Kay Letourneau is of course the most famous example. Often you would hear people say that while an older man sleeping with an underage girl is molestation, an adult woman having sex with an underage boy is just a “lucky boy.” Either way, regardless of gender, an adult sleeping with a minor is wrong. It’s illegal for a reason. And it’s not just because of physical limitations. For instance, in the case of A Teacher, this kid is probably ready physically. But the emotional limitations of such an encounter are always present. There is much greater gap emotionally between a 17-year-old and a 27-year-old than there is between a 27-year-old and a 37-year-old. That distance is what this film depicts best. It’s uncomfortable, tragic, and fascinating.

A Teacher Movie Still 2 Lindsay Burdge

Fair warning, A Teacher has one of the most misleading trailers in recent memory. It shows the woman stripping to her underwear while soft saxophone plays in the background, with other shots of stolen glances in the classroom. It looks like they are trying to sell it as a Skinemax film with all of the salacious details meant to turn you on. In reality, that’s not it at all. They do show why this affair is sexy for both of the participants, but it’s in service of being honest to a larger point. Also, there are a couple of scenes that seemed underlit. No, we don’t need a spotlight on every sex scene so we can get in on every detail. But there are a couple of pivotal moments where it was just hard to tell what was going on. There was noise and vague movement, but not much definition.

Overall, A Teacher is well worth seeing, especially for the lead performance. This indie movie could prove a calling card for both Lindsay Burge and the director Hannah Fidell. It’s good to see this subject matter dealt with from the female perspective with honesty. Worth seeking out.




I'm a family man who got his Drama degree back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and now works at a desk. I love movies of all kinds, and I am still working my way through the list of 1001 movies you must see before you die.

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