Like Indiana Jones, spectacular indie (no pun intended) foreign film distributor Film Movement chooses wisely in selecting the 2014 Bulgarian drama "The Lesson" as the September release for the uber-awesome Film-of-the-Month Club that Movement operates, This story of a teacher being schooled in the harsh realities of modern life is universal in its themes and makes a nice companion for the recently reviewed Movement release "The Chambermaid," which tells the tale of a hotel cleaner who learns her own lessons.
The well-deserved 12 film festival wins and 7 "they was robbed" nominations illustrate the high regard for this artistic "ripped from the headlines" tale of a relatively nice and well-educated woman pushed beyond her limits despite valiant efforts to hold things together for herself and her nuclear family. The information in the liner notes of the DVD regarding the commendable sacrifices of the cast and crew in making this film further validate that this one is particularly special.
The realism of the film extends to filming it on location and using locals from that small community for bit parts. An example of the latter is employing actual school children to portray tweens.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Lesson" exceptionally conveys the themes and style of the film will keeping spoilers to a minimum.
The film opens with our hero Nabe, who teaches children English as a foreign language, taking a hard line regarding one student stealing money from a classmate; her objective expands beyond wanting to ensure that justice is served to teaching the culprit the difference between right and wrong.
The story enters fable territory when Nabe learns that the diversion of mortgage payments by her alcoholic husband has reached the level of the family facing an imminent foreclosure of said debt. The futile attempts of the louse-like spouse to sell a beater of an RV is a wonderful narrative technique to illustrate the pathetic nature of this miscreant. However, like Tammy Wynette and Hillary Clinton, Nabe stands by her man.
As the aforementioned liner notes states, the power of "Lesson" includes piling on more drama and despair just when you think that things cannot get any worse. Hope in the form of payment for freelance work and subsequently money from Nabe's father fizzles and requires that she borrow from a textbook sleazy loan shark. Two spoilers in the form that Nabe subsequently must pan handle and scavenge coins from a park fountain barely scratch the surface.
Oscar-worthy star Margita Gosheva portrays this horrific downward spiral with an amazing stoicism. We see (and feel) her pain without her breaking down into tears, loudly lamenting her fate, or otherwise strongly emoting, She largely merely accepts verbal abuse and other humiliation with a neutral expression and does what her thoroughly unfair circumstances require. The two times in which she engages in very apt rebellion will make you want to cheer.
Along those lines, watching Nabe suit up in the final scenes and then commit the act that will resolve her situation deserves a special place in film history. This outcome is guaranteed to surprise you.
The bonus short film is a cute American documentary on the nefarious practice of smuggling the tasty and fun Kinder egg candy into the United States. The ban on this confection is based on the clever and cute toys that come inside the chocolate shell being a choking hazard. This amusing movie far exceeds the objective of being equally entertaining and educational that this genre should achieve.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Lesson" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.