It would be very easy to sneer at this film. There are certainly flaws enough, but one should remember that a number of people spent a number of months creating a film which is not pornography, an action epic or teen horror extravaganza. More to the point, it is not an "art house" film either, so, in my book, some folk had faith in it and it deserves more than a shrug.
The positives: Malcolm McDowell an actor who has specialised in off-the-wall roles from Anderson's anti-establishment films and Kubrick's "Clockwork Orange" , to the earnest, wife-loving Shakespeare lecturer who is also, with the best of intentions, a pimp.
His classes of nubile young students, who would, in the normal course of events, be screwing spotty undergraduates, are actually occasionally screwing very wealthy, if elderly, men in exchange for scholarships. Is this a problem? It depends on your point of view, and this gives the film its saving interest.
The opening shots leave one in no doubt that this is a film aimed at a "mature" audience. Things go wrong in a way which ensures that we drop into Professor Noah Melville's world at a point when it is about to unravel (His name is a rather forced amalgam of American literature and the Bible).
McDowell is an actor. He carries and almost saves the film. His Melville neither tastes his own wares nor benefits financially. He merely harnesses the "summer seeming lust" to get his students free education. Unfortunately not all of his clients are as high-minded.
Enter the negatives. The film loses its grip and spins into the bushes. A detective (Macfadyen), a cliché of the misunderstood divorced cop with food in one hand and a faint glint in the eye when he remembers why he joined the force before disillusionment and a justified killing, bumbles through a script Shakespeare could not save. If ever a character was created by a committee, this is it. His partner I shall not name because she will want to forget this film, as will several young women whose talents do not stretch to acting. It is a great pity that a thought-provoking idea was allowed to die on the altar of cast budget.
Does the film make one think? Yes, but mainly about how much better it could have been. The director has tried to span too large a ravine between an intelligent college human interest story like Educating Rita, and a poor man's Lethal Weapon. I'm afraid the film falls into the sad category of "nice try".
18 of 20 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?