A Teacher Loses Control, Along With Its Embattled Protagonist


There are, no doubt, any number of otherwise reasonable female pedagogues who have struck up affairs with underage male students, but why Hannah Fidell’s A Teacher has to present this species of relationship as a case study in female hysteria is never clear. Scrupulously avoiding any hints of sensationalism, Fidell centers her film on the rather mundane business of high school English teacher Diana (Lindsay Burdge) sneaking off for assignations with pupil Eric (Will Brittain), until all of a sudden Diana realizes she can’t live without the kid. But instead of probing the details of the characters’ behaviors beyond merely noting the simple business of Diana’s obsession and Eric’s youthful arrogance, the director substitutes daft touches such as dimly ironic commentary (a clueless partygoer calls Diana the teacher that students “would like to bang”) and shorthand signifiers of obsession (Diana clicking repeatedly on Eric’s Facebook photos while ominous drones and tom-drum rolls fill the soundtrack). When Diana’s fixations begin to take over, Fidell seems ill-prepared to steer the film into strictly psychological territory, resulting in a project that loses its fraught sense of control at the same moment as its embattled protagonist.