Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Country Teacher (Venkovský učitel)

Thursday, June 18, 10:05 pm, Castro Theatre, COUN18C
Monday, June 22, 9:30 pm, Elmwood Theatre, COUN22E

A young science teacher leaves his prestigious prep-school job (and his over­bearing mother) in the big city, relocating to a small village school. He befriends a single mother and her teenage son, becoming almost part of the family, watching the boy's freely and openly sexual relation­ship with his girl­friend. But then a fuck­buddy from the city comes for a visit, throwing the teacher into a fog of uncertainty, rejecting sex without love but not sure how to find both together.

The story line treads uncom­fortably close to stereo­types of gay men as pathetic emotional cripples who can't function in society. Indeed, the teacher is moping almost throughout the movie as he sits by on the sidelines, before he takes an even more disturbing turn. The cinematography is beautiful and the acting and directing are top-notch, but the central character knocks the film down a peg or two in my recommendations. Near the end, the towns­people show a surprisingly unstereotypical side. On the whole, I give it 3½ out of five bells.

The Country Teacher (Venkovský učitel), dir. Bohdan Sláma, Czech Republic, 2008, 113 min., in Czech with English subtitles; watch the trailer

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