Intro: The only thing I can imagine being worse than being at an all girls school is an all girls boarding school. Seeing CRACKS at the European Union Film Festival confirmed my view of singularly female environments with the story of young girls and their enigmatic teacher at an elite English boarding school in the 1930’s.
Plot Summary: Eva Green plays Ms. G. a teacher and diving coach to a section of young girls led by the the fiery tyrant Di, played brilliantly by Juno Temple. Ms. G. seems like the open minded, free spirit opening new horizons at the stuffy school until the arrival of a young, Spanish aristocrat to the group. Fiamma (Maria Valverde) incites jealousy, admiration, and curiosity from the students and Ms. G. Fascination turns sinister and violent and Ms. G’s quirky veneer is lifted to reveal a flimsy set of eccentricities and insecurities.
Likes: I am usually a sucker for prep school films, yet this one almost made me ill. Director Jordan Scott creates a world of elegant terror and refined meanness. The school and grounds are kept in constant shade and bleakness. The mood of the film begins dark and kept me waiting for the tragedy to come. Eva Green, the love interest from CASINO ROYALE, effectively tricks us into believing her sophistication and worldliness. Her colorful bohemian costumes are well matched with whimsical accessories. Having the most sonorous and punctuated voice since Kathleen Turner doesn’t hurt either. Her downfall gave me the major creeps and the film rightly gives her no sympathy. Juno Temple plays a little heathen who sees beneath Ms. G’s crazy and thankfully escapes a similar fate, only terrorizing Fiamma and turning the other girls against her.
CRACKS is hard to like and offers few pleasures. Ms. Scott illustrates how some people can thrive or simply get along in a contained environment, but emerge and take what they learned into the world. The movie should make us wary of those who can only live in such places. They love their cages and will hurt everyone around them to stay there.
I couldn’t recommend the film widely or even specifically. Yet, I will be on the watch for Ms. Scott’s next film.