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Heavy-Breathing Fun in Girls'-School Drama Cracks

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Cracks
Directed by Jordan Scott
IFC Films
Opens March 18

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As boarding-school bodice-rippers go, this assured debut by British director and girls’-school alumna Jordan Scott fairly bursts with pent-up carnality trying to ripen under rigid autocracy laden with lesbian denial. Shot in a lushly wild corner of Ireland, Cracks looks as lovely as a colorized old postcard, all vibrant vermilions and deep blues to set off the ethereal beauty of Casino Royale Bond girl Eva Green. Alas, the hopelessly miscast Green is too darn French, lacking the voraciously loony brio it takes to play Miss G, a glamorous but increasingly unhinged teacher who lives for her pubescent maidens while dreaming of foreign travel. Much of the pleasure comes instead from the erotic symbiosis of the mädchen in school uniform, topped off by a sharply intelligent performance from Juno Temple (Kaboom) as a smart but unfinished head-girl type whose perch as teacher’s pet is toppled by the arrival of a pneumatic Spanish blueblood (María Valverde) who catches Miss G’s roving eye. Copious diving into lakes, scads of Jean Brodie dialogue (“Do you have desire, gehls?”), and midnight feasting in drag follow. All of which is heavy-breathing fun until an ill-judged lapse into Lord of the Flies territory and a Jean Rhys–ian climax all but bury the message about the evils of repression.

 
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