Starring: Lily Rabe, Timothee Chalamet, Lili Reinhart, Anthony Quintal, Rob Heubel
Directed By: Julia Hart
Plot: Rachel Stevens (Rabe) is at a crossroads in her life, when she agrees to chaperone three students (Chalamet, Reinhart, Quintal) to a drama competition. She balances the fine line between being a teacher and a mentor and a friend. These lines get blurred, and things get complicated.
What Works: Lily Rabe gives an excellent performance, and the film itself walks the perfect line with her character. Unlike the tawdry adaptations past where the lonely older woman sleeps with the student, she never truly loses her footing. She never tries to be that Lifetime version of her character. Timothee Chalamet does a great job too as the troubled teenager with a crush on his teacher. Both of them explore a different side to this story, and through the refreshing screenplay and their performances, this film succeeds. Director Julia Hart has a clear, fresh perspective, and I’m excited to see what she does in the future.
What Doesn’t Work: There was this one scene that just didn’t work for me. It was between Heubel and Rabe where they step outside for a smoke. Neither actor seems like they smoke, and it seemed like an odd choice to have these two characters, who haven’t smoked yet in the film, both do something that looks uncomfortable for the actors. They just kinda hed the cigarettes instead of actually trying to smoke them. It’s such a little thing, but I noticed it. Later on, Chalamet smokes briefly, and he’s just another actor… and it all seemed just rather pointless.
Final Word: A tour de force for Rabe, who showcases that she’s so much more capable as a leading lady than the opportunities she’s had so far. Sure, she does great work in things like American Horror Story, but she never really gets her name above the title. She shows she’s ready here. It’s another indie in 2016 that didn’t get a lot of attention, but really should have. I highly recommend it.
Final Grade: A-