Cracks (2009) Poster

(I) (2009)

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9/10
We can become devils or angels, but as children, we are both
siderite5 June 2010
The film also reminded me of Lord of the Flies. It was like a cinematic challenge: can the same horror emerge from the humanity of children if they are girls, not boys, and they are in a prestigious English school, not lost on a wild island. The answer is yes! I feel that I spoil quite a lot saying more, so enough said.

This film is very well played by all actors, including the young girls, directed beautifully and using both impressive scenery and great costumes. What I found a little odd was the speed with which the girls were switching from best friends to evil witches and back again. I am told children are like that, so I should have probably ignored that some of the girls there were hot as hell and considered them all well under age.

Eva Green played a complex character, easy to sympathize with at times, easy to loathe at others. She carried this film almost to perfection.

Bottom line: I kept this film in my private collection. I think it is a must see.
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At a wealthy boarding school, a dangerous love triangle erupts into savagery when a repressed teacher targets a precocious aristocrat.
Pamela De Graff21 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Tense and suspenseful, Cracks is a well-paced, carefully crafted period piece. It is about the consequences of creating insular environments which breed mean-spirited hierarchies and draw ill-motivated authority figures. Situations in which the authority figures empower, reward and smile upon petty tyrants because they share the same deviant mindset and orientation.

In this offbeat tale of hatred and hazing, the cloistered children of favored society engage in cruel conformity at an all-girls' school in rural 1934 England. The story focuses on an elite Brody set of girls who comprise the academy's token diving team. The girls are mentored by their vapid instructor and swim coach, Miss G. (Green). (An apparent tribute to Muriel Sparks's novel and film, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie.) None of the students are really happy or normal. They are the issue of the minor gentry. Their absentee parents unceremoniously dump them off at St. Mathilda, and never return. Disposing of their kids frees the adults to pursue their lavish lifestyles. And the girls know it. The polite rejection, combined with a stifling parochial environment turns the kids into seething stew-pots of repressed self-doubt and resentment.

A titled Spanish heiress arrives. She is a precocious and cultured patrician. Of course the other girls retaliate. Fiamma (Valverde) becomes a magnet for their jealousy, licentiousness and rage. While most of the girls lament that their parents seem to have forgotten about them and will never bring them home again, privileged Fiamma is vocally confident that her stretch will be short. Fiamma enjoys lavish gifts and delicacies from home. She shares them with her classmates while regaling them with wondrous tales of travel experiences and folklore. This only make things worse.

Di Rutfield (Temple), the swim team captain, is at once overshadowed and out-performed. Fiamma outflanks her socially, culturally, intellectually, and most devastatingly of all, athletically. Di no longer sets the bar by which the other girls are measured. To the contrary, she must now measure up to it.

More perilously, Di has lost her favored status as the apple of Miss G's eye. Coveted, courted and pampered by the girls' diving coach, Di was bonded to her by a barely suppressed. mutual undercurrent of romantic and sexual high voltage. Upon Fiamma's debut, Miss G's attentions shift to the enigmatic new enchantress.

My own snobby boarding school wasn't Catholic, and it was well enough administered that there was a minimum of clique exclusiveness, hazing and cruelty. But oh my, do I ever recognize the personality of Miss G. She is a tortured closet lesbian, perpetually titillated by her juvenile charges. A bundle of insecurities and self-perceived inadequacies, Miss G. fortifies her ego by reveling in the matriarchal power or her position. She is quietly desperate, dangling on a smoldering time-fuse, and primed for an angry episode of sexually frustrated, catastrophic hysteria at the first hint of a substantial challenge to her authority.

Damningly, Miss G. is also a fraud who recites adventures from Mary Kingsley's Travels To West Africa (1897), claiming the experiences to be her own. Having been at St. Mathilda continuously since she was a schoolgirl, Miss G. convinces her students that she's a feisty, liberated explorer. Fiamma really has traveled however, and Miss G resents it. Gifted, independent, rebellious by the standard of the day, it's obvious Fiamma is more wordily and educated than Miss G.

Miss G. loves Fiamma, and she hates her. She wants to alternately kiss and slap the girl. Miss G. is drowning in a swirling infusion of hormonal captivation and intimidated insecurity. She veils her own closeted sexuality and verboten urges for Fiamma behind a tenuous mask of low key hostility. Churning under her increasingly strained visage lurks a poisonous cocktail of spite, infatuation, and abject lust. Tensions amplify. Fiamma, Di, and Miss G. square off. Together they plunge into a sensational maelstrom of bitter jealously, taboo coitus, madness, and salacious mayhem.

As in William Golding's novel Lord Of The Flies, there's an irony at play in Cracks. In Golding's work, which has inspired several films, schoolboys are sent away from England to protect them from war violence. Yet they promptly do battle with each other upon being shipwrecked. Becoming utter barbarians, they revert to the trees within hours of marooning.

In Cracks the girls study Christian values, social and intellectual refinement, self control and etiquette. When Fiamma smashes their authoritarian hierarchy, the schoolgirls' cultural and humanist graces evaporate. Collectively, they atavistically plunge to the lowest common denominator of bilious rivalry, sexual jealousy and brutality.

Cracks carries strong shadings of the Muriel Sparks novel and film, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, but it takes a dark departure. Tense, suspenseful, Cracks' gorgeous cinematography and top tier production values accentuate its thoughtfully plotted storyline. The result is a salacious firecracker of a picture! Cracks is a must-see experience for fans of such films as Heavenly Creatures, Loving Annabelle, and Picnic At Hanging Rock.
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9/10
Great find!
Taylor9512 September 2013
I came across this film out of desperation the other night...just wanting to watch something decent. What I found was a gem of a movie. I wasn't familiar with anyone in the cast except Eva Green from Dark Shadows, who I didn't really have an opinion of either way and I'm not a fan of boarding school movies of any sort, but I watched it anyway.

Eva Green, as Miss G, was completely captivating and I could picture myself having a school girl crush on her when I was in high school...or heck, maybe even now. Her character comes across as educated, well traveled and totally alluring in every way...until a Spanish transfer student comes to the school and she begins to unravel.

The film is beautifully shot and the music is a perfect compliment to it. I really can't wait to see what else Jordan Scott does next.
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7/10
The most important thing in life is desire … Cracks
jaredmobarak16 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
It is time to welcome a new member into the Scott family of filmmakers. Ridley's daughter Jordan Scott has arrived with Cracks, a story about a London boarding school and the activities that occur within, based on a novel by Sheila Kohler. Scott spoke of how growing up in a similar type setting is what led her to want to bring the tale to the big screen; the traditional atmosphere where the establishment itself becomes every student's world. The girls in the film speak about "home" yet never in detail or with a clear memory as to what they are missing. Many had been sent for a year or less only to find that they were trapped, sent away for the entirety of their youth. Scott really has a handle on the material and gets the aesthetic just right, from the environment, the costumes, the attitudes, and the cliquish superiority complex that comes with an isolated upbringing where your teacher is queen and you her conduit to the little people.

It starts by giving an idea of what life is like at the school through the diving team. Coached by Eva Green's Miss G, an ex-pupil that stayed on upon graduation, the team has a hierarchy corresponding to the ages of the girls. Led by Juno Temple's Di Radfield, along with her cohort and lackey Poppy, played by Imogen Poots, the girls rule the school. Radfield most assuredly has a complex and need to be on top—she makes butter, in one instance, at risk of getting in trouble and then puts an underling in her place when the piece of bread given to her is lacking; she got the butter for them so she better have as much as she wants—and therefore becomes threatened when her kingdom is invaded by a Spanish princess. María Valverde's Fiamma has had some sort of relationship with a boy outside her class system and, as punishment to reform, been sent to the English school. In her mind it's just a warning and will only last a short time, but she soon finds out that is what all the other girls, there for years, thought at the start too.

Fiamma is the catalyst that shakes things up and turns the school's tenuous equilibrium upside-down. A threat to Radfield and Poppy, she is also the embodiment of all that Miss G hoped her life would be. Wanting to be the idol of the girls, maybe even staying to teach because it was the only way she could pretend to have lived out her dreams, the stories she tells of her worldly travels soon are proved false by the fact Fiamma can recite the exact words, having read the books Miss G steals from. It's a fascinating role reversal and mirroring of idolatry when you watch Radfield's desire to please and ultimately become Miss G trumped by Miss G's own hope and want to do the same with Fiamma. Here is a grown woman filled with jealousy and vanity, becoming one of her students in mentality and action. The problem with this, however, is the fact that she is a person of power. Able to get her way due to the very fact she is counted upon to watch over these girls, an abuse of her job risks becoming a destruction of trust and a surefire way to destroy her own life as a result.

One must credit all involved for doing a bang-up job at enveloping the audience in this world; imbuing a sense of realism, bringing the past in front of our eyes. Besides the actresses named above, the entire rest of the cast are virtual unknowns, many of whom—the youngsters especially—are just local boarding school students themselves, brought on to perform. Three of the girls actually all went to the same school as well, so everyone involved knew what went into this closed off society; this world governed and policed by its own rules. Jordan Scott wanted it all to have a sense of fairy tale-like splendor, which is why she put it on the island setting she did. Feeling as though in an environment like New Zealand or some other exotic locale, she was able to transport these girls to a new world, one where they were separated from reality and able to live for each other without foreign interference … until Fiamma's arrival of course.

While the beginning of the film is effective due to its period authenticity and performances, the story itself is somewhat sleight. There isn't much going on besides some adolescent girl bickering and jockeying for praise and approval with Miss G. By no means is it bad or boring, I just hoped for more conflict and weight, something that does come in towards the end, a little too late though. Once we begin to see how far both Radfield and Miss G will go to win the affections of the person they desire, the stakes do get higher and darker. The tension is ratcheted up and a Lord of the Flies type feel seeps in, amping up both the acting and visual style. Scott utilizes the forest and outdoors more here, blocking characters through trees in a foreboding way, letting camera angles and facial expressions speak rather than words. I realize that the opening hour and a half or so is needed to allow for the stellar final twenty minutes, but maybe the danger could have been alluded to earlier. What first just seemed to be conflict between the girls doesn't open up to the possibility of their teacher's inclusion until much later on. Ms. Scott definitely has a bright future ahead of her if Cracks is any indication. Much more than the familial pedigree that precedes her, I believe she will be standing on her own as an artist very soon.
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8/10
Through the eyes of children.
PippinInOz24 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I have not been able to stop thinking about this film since viewing it for the first time yesterday afternoon. Quite remarkable. As always, plenty of reviewers have provided first class descriptions of the actual story already, so I will cut to the chase.

For me this film deals with several themes:

'When I was a child, I thought as a child' (Rudyard Kipling 'If')

It is no accident that the young girls who are the foci of this tale are living in an isolated English boarding school, ON AN ISLAND. This works both literally and metaphorically. The island, named 'Stanley Island' seems to me to have allusions to Miss. G's 'stories' of her travels around the world, particularly her stories of adventures in 'exotic' locales. 'Stanley' was the explorer who, upon meeting up with fellow explorer Livingstone, apparently said: 'Livingstone I presume.' He was also a self - mythologiser and - according to fellow explorer - a brutal racist.

Considering the self mythologising of Miss G. and her eager for information about the World outside of their 'Island' girls, this is entirely appropriate.

Words create truth. Words weave a truth.

While Miss G. tells her stories of her 'travels' and constructs her own World through her words and her audience of young girls, the girls do not yet have the experience or maturity to fully understand just what is going on. To me anyway, right from the beginning, this is a hint of the abuse to come. Children who have been abused, both physically and mentally, often speak much later in life of not having the words to articulate what was going on. The vulnerability of the girls is always there, even in some of the most beautifully filmed scenes - of which there are many.

Look out for the opening scenes where Di and Miss G. are in the rowing boat, Di is clearly smitten by her exotic teacher. The camera shots here tell us a lot. We see Miss G. through the misty eyes of a young, inexperienced, isolated girl - those early scenes of Miss G. are the creation of the girls' idolatry.

Watch how this breaks down. When Fiamma arrives from Spain, a young girl who is well traveled and has experienced life in the wider world, the 'cracks' of the title begin to appear. We start seeing Miss. G through Fiamma's eyes, she looks a bit more 'crazed', a bit more mad.

Also, watch out for the scenes when Miss. G is not in the school grounds - perhaps the most telling scene in the film for me, which genuinely chilled me, was when Miss G goes into the little village to buy a few things. She is talking to herself, distracted and clearly unstable.

This is how you and I would see her.

It is how Fiamma sees her. Her terror is real and totally understandable. She 'sees' clearly the unstable creature Miss G. actually is.

When the girls celebrate the Feast of St. Agnes, drinking and eating a midnight feast, someone is going to be the offering. St. Agnes is the Saint of Virgins. Fiamma, drunk, is led away by Miss G and raped. The young girls, once again knowing something isn't 'quite right' but not having the experience of maturity to articulate in their heads just what is happening.

The victim becomes the pariah, as Di cannot cope with what she has seen her previously adored teacher doing through the 'crack' in the door.

Di - short for Diana - is the Goddess of the Hunt, and she leads the girls through the woods chasing the asthmatic and traumatised Fiamma. Fiamma is the Virgin Martyr.

Di escapes the Island, clutching the map she drew for Fiamma earlier in the film. All of the young girls are victims of abuse to some extent. Their minds have been toyed with and manipulated. What is more, no adult seems to notice - or care.

Probably Miss G as well. We never learn her 'back story' but something has happened to her during her time at the school. When the older teacher points to an old school photograph of her, she also refers to some 'scandal' in her past. She has never left 'the Island' and probably never will. Again, literal and metaphorical.

I heartily recommend this film. It's study of abuse is subtle and all the more horrifying for it. It is a reminder of just how vulnerable we all were as children at school, boarding or day school. Before we had the words and worldliness to articulate the many different kinds of abuses there are in the World.
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10/10
A Masterpiece
Francesca_315 November 2012
A very nice person suggested me to transcribe, what I actually wrote on boards about this movie, as a review, so here we go. In the first place, I decided that this movie became one of my all-time favourites... and why is that I 'decided'? Because the more I thought of this movie after watching it, the more I liked it. And what I mean by that is, the main reason I loved this film, would probably be because of the feeling it generated on me. It felt like I was reading a book, an actual & good one, you know, because of its twists, its dramatic scenes and the complexity of its characters & emotions.

I liked the way it explores human emotions and relationships but centered in a darker side, let's just say. The dichotomy showed was so well made. It was all so real and so unreal at the same time. Besides, it certainly shows us the thin line that exists between desire and obsession. PLUS, the fact that such things are still going on nowadays, which makes it very realistic.

Even though I do know this movie is in fact based on a book, I can't really comment from that perspective since I didn't read it, but anyway that's not my point here... The way I see it, In my opinion, this film is so smart, intriguing, fascinating and so beautifully executed that not only will stay with you long afterwards but also will make you talk, comment about it with others, you know, and that's just simply the kind of movie I love to watch but unfortunately, there aren't enough films like this.

In addition to that: The cinematography was just... breathtaking. The locations... esthetically pleasing. The soundtrack... impeccable. The wardrobe... simply gorgeous.

And well, what to say about the actings? They were just... impressive, top-notch, especially Eva Green's one, which was jaw-dropping. She literally gave me the chills with her performance. She left me fascinated. That being said, Jordan Scott you are (ei) genius! Needless to say, I'm looking forward to see more of your work.
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'The most important thing in life is desire.'
gradyharp2 October 2011
Jordan Scott, niece of director Tony Scott who with his brother Ridley Scott serve a executive producers of this film, makes and impressive debut as a director/writer (with Ben Court and Caroline Ip) in this intensely interesting and well crafted adaptation of Sheila Kohler's novel CRACKS. This is a period piece (1934) that takes place in St. Mathilda's School in Stanley Island, England, an isolated all girl British boarding school. The mood is one of Gothic evil where rich young girls participate in the cloistered rigid education imposed by the matrons of the school -Miss Nieven (Sinéad Cusack), Matron (Helen Norton), and Miss Lacey (Deirdre Donnelly) - whose chief concern is to guard the reputation of the school at all costs, and lightened only by the presence of the swimming/diving coach Miss G (Eva Green) whom the girls admire for her exotic beauty, worldliness, supposed travel around the world, and her possessiveness of her brood.

One of the girls, Di (Juno Temple in a brilliant performance), is the team captain and the apparent favorite of Miss G - until the sudden arrival of a beautiful Spanish girl Fiamma (María Valverde) who tends to set herself apart form the rest of the claque (Di, Poppy (Imogen Poots), Lily (Ellie Nunn), Fuzzy (Clemmie Dugdale), Laurel (Adele McCann) and Rosie (Zoë Carroll). Fiamma is an expert diver and her gifts as a sportsman as well as her beauty attract Miss G, replacing Di as her favorite. In jealous rage Di gathers the claque and plans the exit of this unwanted intruder. How this backfires and increases Miss G's attraction to Fiamma leads down another path of evil that pulls this little tale of terror to a surprising end.

Eva Green manages to make Miss G a fascinating character and her gradual obsession with Fiamma and the direction that takes her is a very fine performance. But the entire cast - girls and teachers - is superb, especially Juno Temple in a career making role. The cinematography by John Mathieson finds both the haunting beauty of the isolated St. Mathilde's School and the splendid panoramas of nature add immeasurably to the film as does the musical score by Javier Navarette - a score that combines Anglican hymns with gentle piano music. This is a triumph for all concerned and bodes well for the career of Jordan Scott.

Grady Harp
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7/10
Interesting Film
Prodigy_Enlighten14 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
At first glance "cracks" appears to be a not to well constructed drama about boarding school life for girls in the 1930's, show casing exactly what you would expect from such a drama, the cliques the language, the strict teaching codes and the unruly (for the time) girls.

Although at this point the story isn't all that interesting it is worth noting that the Acting from Mrs G (Eva Green) and Di (Juno Temple) is excellent.

As the film progresses and Fiamma (María Valverde) is introduced things actually take a turn for the better. Observing the Cliques reaction to the foreign intruder, a notably pretty, well dressed and talented intruder, is extremely entertaining.

The switching of loyalties and the revelations of flaws with in the perfect "miss G" begin to captivate the audience and eventually i will admit I was quite involved in the story.

This film is definitely worth a watch if you have a free afternoon to indulge the more slow paced side of cinema.

7/10
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Surprisingly good drama about fatal attraction
Gordon-1123 June 2010
This film is about a young female teacher in a prestigious British boarding school. She develops a special interest in one of her pupils, causing catastrophic changes in group dynamics.

"Cracks" is such a big surprise. It is technically well made, with great cinematography throughout. The best thing is that the plot is well told, it is engaging throughout the whole story. Every emotion and feeling is conveyed by expert story telling, such as the mood of the scene and the body language of actresses. They draw viewers into their world, and into their feelings. One can easily tell Miss G's attraction, confusion and panic; Di's jealousy and Fiamma's emotional change throughout the film. Such an empathy inducing film is rarely seen nowadays.

I do recommend "Cracks", and I hope it will reach a wider audience.
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10/10
A sleeper which really surprised me ****Spoilers*****
kd34417 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This movie really snuck up on me. I wasn't really expecting too much from it but I must say the third act was mesmerizing. I was literally on the edge of my seat. The protagonist I never saw coming, Eva Green did an amazing job with the role. She just seemed like your run of the mill charismatic teacher that you see in many films. Until Fiamma shows up and things start to slowly and exquisitely unravel. Jordan Scott is so nuanced in her directing, such a deft touch. The other leads María Valverde and Juno Temple were impressive as well. When Fiamma and Di finally become friends and they have that glorious midnight party. Miss G destroys all the goodwill in one dastardly, cowardly act, which in a way destroys all three!!!! I must say Miss G's journey from beloved teacher to despicable villain was something to behold. The last scenes in the movie were just crushing to watch. With Fiamma fleeing her murderous classmates to her ultimate demise with life but an inch away. A remarkable film!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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10/10
'The most important thing in life is desire'
robert-temple-112 April 2010
This is an amazingly brilliant film directed by the young Jordan Scott, who is female despite being called Jordan. She is the daughter (I almost said the son) of Ridley Scott and niece of Tony Scott, and after seeing this film I believe she has more artistic talent than both of them put together. It is simply incredible what she achieves in her portrait of an adult driven to madness by desire for a beautiful young creature, and her film really rivals Luchino Visconti's DEATH IN VENICE (1971) in my opinion, although in this film both the desired and the desirer are female, whereas in Visconti's film based on the Thomas Mann novella DER TOD IN VENEDIG, they were both male. (I once had to read the Mann novella in German and nearly fainted when I found a single sentence which was one and a half pages long with the main verb at the end! But that was Mann for you! Delayed gratification!) This film is set in the surreal setting of a remote girl's boarding school on 'Stanley Island' (wherever that is, as we are not told) in the year 1934. The school as seen in the film, a kind of Victorian Gothic pedagogical fantasy, apparently really exists as a structure somewhere in Ireland. But the geographical location is not really important, all that is needed for the story is the visual impression, the sea adjoining, the wild surrounding hills, and the isolation. This we certainly get, and the outside world barely exists in this hot house of passionate longings, schoolgirl intrigues, extreme homesickness verging on hysteria, and the coursing hormones of teenage girls who never get to see a boy. They are all in love with their mysterious and alluring mistress, 'Miss G.', played by the spectacularly weird and wonderful Eva Green (pronounced 'grain' because her father is Swedish and that is what they do there in Sweden during the long winter nights, they pronounce Green as 'grain'). Miss G. dresses exquisitely and has the finest imaginable artistic colour sense and personal style of dress and manner. The costumes in this film are a total knockout, designed by the super-talented Alison Byrne. A great deal of talent was also lavished on the sets and art direction. This is a real treat to the eye. As a production it is stunning in every respect. The fiery personality of Juno Temple (Juno was the Latin name for the queen of the gods, gedditt?, so of course she has to have a Temple) burns holes in the celluloid with her glowering stares of love, resentment, passion, jealousy, hatred, devotion, all those things mixed up which teenaged girls tend to have in such an unsorted state in their feverish psyches. She is a perfect screen match for the hyper-intense Eva Green. Juno is in love with Miss G. but Miss G. has no eyes for her anymore since the arrival of the super-cool, super-calm, super-beautiful Spanish dream dish, played by Spanish actress Maria Valverde, a silent brooding siren who drives Miss G. insane (literally, not just metaphorically). Despite the erotically charged atmosphere of this film, the director is too subtle to allow a single sexual scene. The most we see is Miss G. kissing Maria's neck, but that is enough to get Juno Temple so hysterical with jealousy that she precipitates a Twilight of the Goddesses, herself included. This is steamy stuff, very steamy stuff indeed, and all done without anybody touching anybody. Miss G. presides over a special collection of nymphets who form the school diving team. The team has never competed and the divers are pretty hopeless, but that all changes when the Spanish girl Fiamma turns up. She is an impeccably-dressed aristocrat of considerable sophistication, and all the girls hate her on sight because she is more beautiful and self-possessed than they are. Later, some of them soften. But Juno's main concern is that Fiamma has stolen Miss G.'s affections from her, and that is not to be tolerated. Fiamma suffers from serious asthma and has an inhaler, and, well, you can imagine the ensuing events. Miss G's steady personality disintegration, under the influence of her stifled lesbian passions, and her descent into a kind of sleep-walking insanity over her obsession with Fiamma, are so brilliantly and horrifyingly portrayed by Eva Green that we wonder if she had to go to a sanitarium for some months to recover after making this intense film. As for Juno Temple, I do hope she can now sit up and speak again. It is all very harrowing, deeply disturbing, and so seething with suppressed but never overtly articulated sexuality that they must still be trying to cool down the camera in an ice bucket. As they say in the horrible tabloid newspapers: 'Corrrrr, what a scorcher!'
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9/10
Instant Classic!
Pieter Rossouw14 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Mesmerising. Predictable perhaps, but only because it stays true to so many classic roots (Think Picnic at Hanging Rock meets Lord of the Flies meets Death in Venice... the list goes on) Yet it's never clichéd. Definitely an instant classic on so many levels, and that's before one realises it was directed by the progeny of one of the world's greatest filmmakers - should that be prodigy? Given the history, I feel it's almost a pity there wasn't a part for Harvey Keitel, as he seems to star in the debut masterpiece of more than a few great modern directors, including Ridley Scott, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, etc... Personally I would have given him a small cameo as one of the townspeople just for fun! Bravo the Scott Clan (no wonder it felt a bit like watching The Hunger for the first time.) - Encore!
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10/10
Simply beautiful
ofvanityandwax31 May 2012
While this might seem like your typical boarding school drama it isn't. It's a surprisingly beautiful film with wonderful cast and some fantastic scenery. However, it's Eva Green's performance and the music that won me over. The entire score is done by Javier Navarrete - who was nominated for an Academy Award for his score of Pan's Labyrinth - needless to say, it was phenomenal and really adds so much to the movie. It might be a little slow paced but I don't think that detracts at all. I found that you could sympathize with a lot of characters as the main themes were abandonment, favouritism, fear, and the desire to be wanted. It was nice watching the characters all develop and start to accept Fiamma.

I read the book after watching the movie and there were a few things that had been changed - the ending in particular. The book featured a more "Lord of the Flies" ending whereas in the movie it's not nearly as explicit and much less horrifying... if one can really say that. Either way, I'd highly recommend the film.
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9/10
Perils of youth
doug-69713 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie at the Toronto International Film Festival premier in September 2009. It's the story of a group of girls at a boarding school in 1934 who are connected by being part of a swim team headed by a charismatic teacher. The teacher, Miss G., is an independent, adventuresome young woman who serves as a hero and role model to her students. She's a Katherine Hepburn type, who is such an appealing character you are as disappointed as you are disgusted by her tragic weakness.

The movie got a great response from the audience and I recommend the film.

The movie is quite sexually sensual, and very deliberately so, but I don't think this movie is simply about sexual awakening, or the perils of succumbing to forbidden lust. The film takes time and care to show how many of the girls have been sent to the school by rich parents who simply don't want to deal with them. Consequently, Miss G. has not simply become a role model to the young girls, but a role model to young, neglected girls. All of this does not come into focus until the end. There are hints early that Miss G. was involved previously in something disreputable, but at the time we are led to believe that it may have only been due to her independent nature.

But everything does become clear. In a scene near the end, after the tragedy, the students read a letter from Miss G which is so devoid of remorse or culpability that you are left to wonder if she had any honourable intentions as their teacher.

The film is showing how vulnerable neglected children are to manipulation and abuse. Handled differently the movie could have been unseemly and impossible to watch, but instead it is thoroughly entertaining. For the majority of the movie we're involved in the interactions between the girl's and Miss G.'s true intentions don't become clear until the end.

An entertaining and ultimately disturbing movie.
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Female version of "Lord of the Flies"
Neal Palomino14 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is the female version of "Lord of the Flies" where there are a bunch of school girls that are sent to a private boarding school that isolates them from their families. The kids feel rejected from their parents and attempts to find love and compassion through one of their teachers, played by Eve Green. The kids try to understand the adolescent age of life where boys start to play a larger role and how it is to become more of a woman. The sport of diving is used to help the women present themselves as beautiful but yet competitive and driving for greatness.

Green portrays a teacher that lives her life vicariously through books until she encounters a student that has adventures that surpasses the books that she has read. Green grows to adore this student that has come from Spain and quickly becomes the teacher's pet. The previous favourite becomes jealous and threatened that she takes on the task to reclaim her spot as the teacher's favourite. Eva Green does a great job in her role but the kids steal your heart as you watch how cruel kids can really be to each other.
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Undercurrent of Love
Mere Humsafar18 October 2012
You will like the movie ..even if the film is rather thematic and arty..

Photography is good, particularly the diving shots of the girls in the pristine lake.. the freshness and quiet beauty of the country side..

the director certainly deserves credit for conveying very convincingly a particular aspect of love between two pairs of females - Miss G and Di and between Miss G. and Di - The suggestion of sexual attraction has been shown without indulging in crude nudity or crude language.. the loudest being " Don't make me beg."

Eva Green,as Miss G,looks ravishing and has given a superb performance.. Maria Valverde as Fiamma looks cute and has done justice to the role and so has Juno Temple as Di..

It is to be understood that movies with such themes cannot have a happy ending.. but the ending chosen by the director has reduced the weight of the otherwise artistic movie.. left open-ended, the appeal and effect would have been better ..I am not sure if the boarding school atmosphere is too bold at times..

Still a good movie, definitely for its precision
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7/10
Good but predictable story line
Benjamin14 December 2009
The story is quite good, easy to follow and the movie illustrates well how jealousy can result in bullying and ultimately into hate. Beautiful water shots and interesting story. The story is set in 1930's England and the arrival of a beautiful cultured girl stirs up everything. She's beautiful and talented but the school she is attending is backwards thinking and it seems that everybody just wants to carry on with the way the school has been run. The new Spanish pupil has a health condition which takes a predictable turn into the movie which a shame. Otherwise very good movie and well thought through dialogs.

The end is a bit short and abrupt.
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Lyrical, beautiful, meaningful, haunting..
MagyarRose9 July 2012
What a masterpiece Jordan Scott has put together here. She's created a work of art transcribing this novel to film with all it's topical and universal applications. Not many films move me to tears, but this one did.

Nothing is harder than to be great and to be misunderstood, to have no means of moving your talents forward as symbolized by both the isolation of the dramatic school on the island, and the the swim team. Nothing is harder than not to fit in. Nothing is more wrenching than potential and innocence gone to naught, and evil that lurks in all our hearts.

But there is redemption in true friends, the hero which rises to the cal in the best of our selves, if only for a moment, before it all dissolves into thin air....such stuff a dreams are made on.

Not only was the cast superbly selected, but the setting, on location shots, the costumes and very important the film score made this a superb experience for me.
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8/10
psycho-sexual drama
SnoopyStyle23 August 2016
It's the private all-girls St. Mathilda's School on Stanley Island, England in 1934. Fiamma Coronna (María Valverde) is the new girl from Spain. She boards with Di Radfield (Juno Temple), Poppy (Imogen Poots), and others. The girls admire their diving teacher Miss "G" Gribben (Eva Green). Miss G was a former student and has stayed in the isolated school. She claims to be worldly but is barely able to go to the nearby town. Fiamma is desperate to leave but she has caught the attention of Miss G. Di was the former favorite of Miss G and the previous best diver. Fiamma tries to reject Miss G and Di grows jealous.

There is a great psycho sexual tone. There are great murky young female relationships. Eva Green plays the disturbed mentor with assurance. This takes on female connections without the unicorns and puppy dogs. The tension builds more and more with Miss G's slow deterioration. Jordan Scott's directions are steady and beautiful. She may have a future in the family business.
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9/10
beautifully acted
sabrina j16 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I found this movie to be beautifully acted. The plot was suspenseful but the characters needed a little more development, specifically the role of MS. G. Overall a real winner in my books. Very well directed. i give it a 9 out of 10 which i rarely give. I really enjoyed the suspense and uncomfortably Erie character of ms G which literally sent shivers down my spine. Juno was stellar in this role and gave the movie the kick it needed. Screenplay could have used some editing and more character development would have put this movie over the top! this is one those movies i will watch again for sure and recommend.I'm Surprised and saddened it never hit the box office in Canada. overall well worth the watch!!
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5/10
"The Most Important Thing In Life Is Desire"
sddavis6319 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This movie has a definite edge to it, but in all honesty the edge is somewhat blunted. From the beginning, the situation just doesn't seem right. The movie is set in a girls' boarding school many years ago. The school is isolated, apparently on an island off the English coast. The school has a somewhat strange diving team (the point is eventually made that this team never competes against any other team) led by an attractive and charismatic coach known as Miss G (played by Eva Green.) Miss G's relationship with the team is more than just a student-teacher or coach-diver relationship. There's a closeness to the relationship, and particularly with Di (Juno Temple) - the team's captain. The relationship is strained by the arrival of a beautiful and talented newcomer named Fiamma (Maria Valverde). Fiamma is especially isolated. She's from Spain and so is completely out of her element, she comes from some type of aristocratic family and so there may be class issues and she immediately becomes Miss G's new pet - much to the dismay of Di, who had previously held that role. There was that degree of edginess in all this, but not much more. Things just weren't quite right. The movie picks up and becomes quite unsettling when the girls hold their "midnight feast" a little more than halfway through.

Fiamma - having taken part in the feast - gets drunk. Miss G discovers her passed out and takes her out of the dorm and back to her own room. It's a bit unclear exactly what happens at this point, but it seems clear that Miss G lives up to the lesson she taught her team early on in the movie ("the most important thing in life is desire.") We know that at the very least she molests the drunken Fiamma. Whether anything more than what's portrayed on screen happens we don't know, of course, nor do we know for sure how long Fiamma is in the room with Miss G. The incident, however, sparks the movie and leads up to tragic results.

Unfortunately, I thought this fizzled out a bit at the end. An edgy movie didn't end with too much of an edge. What stood out for me was the conviction of the headmistress that whatever tragedy had happened, what mattered was not the truth, but protecting the school's reputation. It's OK. Edgy at times, yes, but with an edge that's a bit blunt. (5/10)
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A very, very dark version of "Dead Poet's Society" set in an all girls school. Not bad, but was hoping for better. I say B-
Tony Heck17 July 2011
"Let nothing hold you back except the air itself. You are between heaven and earth. The rules no longer apply." A teacher (Green) at a boarding school for girls tries to teach them about real life. When a new girl arrives at the school and takes Miss G's (Green) attention from her, Di (Temple) becomes jealous. This is a movie that drags a little, but is still very good. Eva Green's performance alone is worth watching this for. The entire movie she keeps you guessing as to what kind of person she is. Just when you think she is helping the girls, something changes and you are not sure anymore. I would compare this to "Dead Poet's Society", but a darker version of that movie. I did enjoy this but again, it is pretty slow in parts but it is worth it to stay with it until the end. Overall, this is a good movie, but not for everyone. A very dark British version of "Dead Poet's Society" for girls. I give it a B-.

Would I watch again? - I don't think I will.

*Also try - Never Let Me Go
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10/10
Outstanding Film
aimless-4618 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
"Cracks" (2009) is a blend of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brody" (1969) and "Atonement" (2007), but ultimately it is unique enough to maintain considerable originality. The principle casting is especially good with Maria Valverde excellent and Eva Green (much like Elizabeth Hartman) able to nicely tap into her inherent shyness and bring a more powerful authenticity to her character. And Juno Temple (a ringer for a young Glenda Farrell if you watch a lot of 30's films) is quite simply a force to be reckoned with, something you already know if you have watched her in other films.

What follows is full of spoilers as I am trying to assist people in understanding the story. So if you have not watched I suggest you stop reading and come back for the rest after your first viewing. Then watch it again as like most really good films it withholds at lot of its pleasure for multiple viewings.

So here are a few thoughts from my twisted mind: You only begin to understand what the screenwriter/director is trying to say when you realize that the story is being told entirely from Diana's (Juno Temple) point-of-view and the other characters are simply plot devices to illustrate Diana's coming of age story. Miss "G" (Eva Green) is another Miss Brodie (Maggie Smith) and Diana is another Sandy (Pamela Franklin). As in the 1969 film, the star pupil gets her back up when the teacher she worships finds someone else to be her student ideal.

A key to both films is Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott", which was quoted in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brody". "When the Moon was overhead, Came two young lovers lately wed; "I am half sick of shadows," said The Lady of Shalott." In the poem she is a magical being who lives alone on an island upstream from King Arthur's Camelot. Her purpose is to look at the world outside her castle window in a mirror, and to weave what she sees into a tapestry. She is forbidden by the magic to look at the outside world directly. Looking at the world in a mirror and depicting it in a work of art is an allegory for the life of a teacher viewing the world from an ivory tower and interpreting it for her young students.

In similar ways Miss Brodie and Miss "G" are wonderful teachers and most young girls would have benefited from membership in their groups, mostly because of the breaking of conventions and the encouragement to openly explore the possibilities life offers. But both have fatal flaws. Miss Brodie is judgmental and irresponsible, full of misguided ideals and grievances, and totally confident that the world is as simplistic as she wants it to be. Miss "G's" confidence, on the other hand, is a complete facade; hiding a brittle basket case who can only bloom in the protected niche of the school, despite her seeming openness to experiencing life.

Both are downbeat films but "Cracks" considerably less so. This is because while Sandy's depressing transformation into and betrayal of Miss Brodie was the principle dynamic, Diana ultimately wises up to the folly of what her teacher is about. And Diana's atonement is a very positive one.

Once you understand that Diana's growth is the principle dynamic, the rest of the story fits together rather smoothly. The fatal attraction of Miss "G" to Fiamma (Maria Valverdeis) is almost a Hitchcock McGuffin, in that it provides a lot of character motivation but is ultimately just a plot device.

Interestingly the climatic scene comes well before the end of the film. It is the scene where Diana is helping Fiamma put on makeup for their "Eve of St. Agnes" feast. The importance of the scene (and the reason they linger on Fiamma's eye contact) is that it is at this point that a part of Fiamma's spirit becomes a part of Diana, something which symbolically happened when Fiamma gave her the bottle several scenes earlier. And Diana takes both bottle and spirit with her when she leaves the island at the end. In "Jane Eyre" this same dynamic occurs between Jane and Helen; with the gentle spirit of Helen passing to Jane and ultimately being the transformative force in her life.

Although I love this climatic scene, my favorite scene comes a bit later when Diana is alone with the headmistress in her office. I think that I like it so well because for a first time director, Jordan Scott has an intuitive grasp of the limitations of sentimentality and she creates a scene which affects the viewer in a way they cannot help, and they cry. This can be wonderful but a director must carefully employ it because it will not work if the viewer picks up on "false" sentimentality. So unlike such scenes in many movies, Juno Temple (who has no lines in the scene) is not weeping, trying to get you to weep. Instead she is trying not to cry; and the scene is so much more powerful because of this restraint, the slick way the scene is edited, and the talent for nonverbal acting that Temple brings to the film.

The ending of "Cracks" is both moving and intriguing, in large part because of the slick editing. They cut between shots of the girls reading a note and shots of the exiled Miss "G" unpacking and staring at a photo of her team. Then the audio reveals it is Diana's atonement note, at which time the editor cuts to a shot of Diana sitting on the ferry with the book, the bottle, and their map. The film goes out on a shot of Diana's face; as she is leaving the cloistered island to take the path in life that she believes Fiamma would have taken.

Then again what do I know? I'm only a child.
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6/10
Very different than the synopsis depicts.
rubylerouge8 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I am a big fan of Eva Green, so jumped at a chance to see a flick of hers I hadn't seen before. The story is engaging, and well acted on all parts, but it is not a tale of a consensual affair, and had Eva Green's character been played by a man instead, I believe the synopsis would be much different, as would the average review. This is a story about a teacher who becomes obsessed with an approx. 13 year old student and molests her in her sleep, not an affair. This is a story about child molestation. There is little to go on by the cover, one would assume that the student is late high school age at least and had consented and been seduced. No. Not at all. Were someone who had been molested to see this movie without knowing its true nature, I think it could be traumatic.
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8/10
A beautiful and emotionally charged depiction of longing and desire
Kristead1 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
'Cracks' is a truly beautiful film about the all-consuming power of unrequited love. I watched this film a week or two ago and it has not yet left me. I don't think it ever will.

Everything about this film engaged me within the first few minutes: the musical score, the gorgeous, opening landscape shots of English fields, and of course, the very interesting abundance of female characters. I thought the casting was brilliant - Juno Temple was the perfect fit for the unique character of 'Di', as was Eva Green who played the extraordinary and inspiring 'Miss G'. Maria Valverde as the beautiful, mysterious 'Fiamma' was the icing on the cake. I, along with many other viewers (I believe) instantly fell in love with her as a character due to her poise, maturity, mystique and stunning beauty.

This film is a wonderful and honest depiction of the emotionally draining spiral that holds you down when falling in love with someone who doesn't love you. Miss G's visibly deteriorating mental state as she falls in love with her exquisite student is something that deeply touched me. Eva Green's performance as Miss G is simply impeccable - she starts as a vibrant, vivacious, confident teacher whom is admired and loved by everyone. Yet, by the end of the film, she transforms into an unstable and somewhat psychologically disturbed woman who is driven crazy by her love for Fiamma.

Juno Temple as Di also shined in this film, from start to finish. We see Di at the beginning of 'Cracks' as one of Miss G's most beloved, high-achieving students who can do no wrong. She is the 'leader' of the pack and is slightly intimidating to some of the younger students at the boarding school. She can certainly be sweet and sour. Di is clearly Miss G's favourite student, but when Fiamma arrives from Spain, Di's position in the group is threatened as she notices Miss G's growing affection towards Fiamma. As a result, Di becomes angry and viciously jealous, despising Fiamma's every breath. Juno Temple's ability to portray these two sides of Di is a talent of its own that should be commended.

I adored this film for its honesty, as well as its exploration of not just a teacher-student relationship, but a lesbian teacher-student relationship that is unrequited. The film does not show long-winded scenes of Miss G and Fiamma's physical activity, but in my opinion it does not need to. Every feeling these two characters experience can be observed if you watch closely - the eye contact, body language and facial expressions express a thousand words. Further, it goes without saying that 'Cracks' makes a statement about feminism and the complexity of female emotions and desires. Little to no men are part of the cast, which is something I did not even realise until the film was ending.

If you are a lover of independent, raw, emotional films that challenge 'normal' relationships and stereotypes, 'Cracks' is definitely for you.
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