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Oleanna (1994)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  4 November 1994 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 2,266 users  
Reviews: 102 user | 20 critic

Student Carol visits Professor John to discuss how she failed his course but the discussion takes awkward turn.

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Title: Oleanna (1994)

Oleanna (1994) on IMDb 6.7/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
John
...
Carol
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Storyline

A two character movie, involving a college professor, John, who is confronted by a female student, Carol, who is failing his course. The two spend a long time talking to each other, during which time John says a few things that can be taken the wrong way. After the night the two spent talking, John is slapped with a sexual harassment accusation by Carol. After more accusations from Carol, John's career as a teacher begins to fall apart. This forces John with a choice on how to handle the situation, and the results make up for a shattering ending to the movie. Written by Justin Sharp <rainman88@earthlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He said it was a lesson. She said it was sexual harassment. Whichever side you take, you're wrong. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

4 November 1994 (USA)  »

Box Office

Gross:

$124,693 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David Mamet's script was heavily criticized as sexist. He defended himself against this allegation in (Guardian supplement) (UK) 8 April 2004, pg. 8-9, "'Why can't I show a woman telling lies?'" See more »

Goofs

When Carol leaves John's office after their second meeting, shouting "Help!", the shadow of the camera covers the door. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
John: Oh, my God.
Carol: Yes, that's right.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The "school song" (written by Mamet) played during the credits is sung by Mamet's wife, Rebecca Pidgeon who first performed the role of Carol on stage. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Angels Revenge (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Long Ago And Far Away
Words by David Mamet
Music by Rebecca Pidgeon
Soloist: Steve Goldstein (as Steven Goldstein)
© Copyright 1994 Dwight Street Music
See more »

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User Reviews

Two characters, one room - I wasn't bored for a second!

Unique, hyper-real film where the dialogue is the main plot - and what a rivetting plot it is. I was very skeptical about Oleanna, and was really resistant to it - but was very surprised to find myself succumbing to it. If you love language, and know enough language, Oleanna will be a joy for you: because the dialogue is loaded with jokes about dialogue. You'll be able to pick the places where Bill Macy is saying non-words, pretentious words or jargons in his monologues - and notice where somebody is talking ambiguously, or not saying anything at all.

Its about words, talking and meaning. So there are lots of words for good reason.

Its very dialoguey dialogue: not the kind of things people say, but the kind of things writers write. Reminiscent of the verbal gymnastics of Samuel Beckett, and the twisting meanings of Catch-22. Or perhaps the comedic pretentiousness of Hal Hartley. Meaning is controlled by the powerful - that's the key. Whoever controls the conversation, the language, in this movie - controls the situation. So everything is either ambiguous or figurative. Mainly, the exact things the two say are not what's key. Its which one of them is talking.

The performances - well, Macy at least - are in an appropriately hyper-real tone to suit the hyper-real dialogue. The girl is not very good, but this is still a masterpiece of language. Its static, centring on two characters and one room, but for good reason - to put the words centre stage. I'm so shocked that i just watched a movie with two characters and one room, and was not only not bored once, but hanging on each word and found that the time flew by.

The moral of the story is that things are bound to go wrong if you talk to somebody for the length of an entire movie. You're bound to go nuts. The viewer is bound to go nuts just listening to William H Macy in the first half-hour of the movie - you'll be amazed that purely talking to someone, using words, can make you feel that you're trapped, that you can't win or even escape.

Quite brilliant, really.

8/10. Essential viewing. I never knew dialogue held this power. A unique discovery.


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