Review: 'The Teacher's Lounge,' Germany's entry for Best International Feature Film at this year's Oscars
There are rarely "misses" when it comes to movies that get nominated for Best International Feature Film by the Academy Awards. With thousands of movies being produced globally each year, every country submits what they consider their "best" film, and then only five countries have their films selected.
Germany's submission is "The Teacher's Lounge," a riveting drama about a seemingly small situation at an elementary school that unravels out of control. It's a worthy selection, and one that most viewers should find easily relatable.
If there was one overlying theme in "The Teacher's Lounge," it would be that even the best of intentions can sometimes end in dire consequence. Some teachers are looking to investigate a recent string of thefts (stealing money right out of wallets) and are convinced that it's some rule-breaking rapscallion student. Even after witnessing some other faculty members use some questionable methods to try to determine the culprit(s), the meek and caring school teacher, Carla Nowak (a fantastic Leonie Benesch), takes matters into her own hands. She unwillingly kicks over the hornet's nest.
But that's not all that the film is trying to tackle. The pressures of the teacher's "every matter is treated like a big deal" may sound like a good, hard-nosed policy, but the pressures it creates for those existing underneath it becomes untenable. The movie falters a bit down the stretch, but it's never uninteresting. Sometimes an extra conversation here or there might have alleviated some of the stresses experienced by characters in the movie, but the tension is always palpable. Not bad for a movie that rarely leaves the school, and relies on the performances of so many children.
Ms. Nowak seems to think that she finds the criminal - a fellow faculty member - which is complicated because this other teacher's son is a student in Ms. Nowak's class. Oh, and this other teacher vehemently denies the wrong-doing, despite what seems like pretty solid evidence against her.
Any one teacher can only do so much. "The Teacher's Lounge" hammers home the idea that so much of what happens in our lives are out of our control. Sometimes, sadly, the best way forward might be to try to keep yourself out of the drama in the first place.
Genre: Drama, Thriller.
Run Time: 1 hour 38 minutes.
Starring: Leonie Benesch, Leonard Stettnisch, Eva Lobau, Michael Klammer.
Directed by Ilker Catak.
"The Teacher's Lounge" is now playing in theaters and was nominated for one Academy Award.
Looking for a specific movie or review?