East Sussex, Southeast England, August 15, 1939. Seventeen days before WWII, an English teacher disappears from Bexhill-on-Sea's Augusta Victoria College: a prestigious finishing school for the daughters of Germany's most influential, upper-class families. He has made a panicky call about a missing camera before he disappears.
Six days later a new English teacher, Thomas Miller (played by Eddie Izzard), turns up at the school. When he first turns up, the headmistress (Judy Dench) is suspicious of him.
As Miller teaches Adolf Hitler's league of Nazi girls, against the backdrop of the unaccountable disappearance of his predecessor, the new tutor finds himself trying to shed light on the mystery. German spies enter the picture. Now, the clock is ticking, and strange behaviours raise suspicions among colleagues.
It turns out that both the missing teacher and Miller work for the British Government. Judy Dench’s character is an innocent, being fooled by the PE teacher who is the German operative. And of course the girls are saved but kept in Britain.
This was promoted as a thriller and drama but missed the mark. There is a scene where Miller is running from the police when he is suspected of killing someone. It ends up being a bit of a “Keystone Cops” scenario, rather than serious chase. This may have been intentional to relieve the tension, but I am not convinced it was the right approach. There was also a scene where Miller is hiding under a desk that I think missed the mark in creating tension.
No performances stood out. Judy Dench will always perform well, but her role was minor. There was potential for a good performance from one of the girls, but the screenplay let this opportunity slip, even though it was important to the end of the film.
The cinematography was the highlight with coastal scenes and wild seas.
The film had potential, but the portrayal was weak with too much predictability. The start was quite slow, without much indication as to where it was going. Overall, we gave it a rating of 2 out of 5.
At our July class we will be discussing “June Again” and “Cruella”.
- Did you enjoy the film? What in particular did you like?
- Was there anything that you did not like?
- What did you think about the cinematography?
- What did you think of the performances? Any strong performances that stand out? Any weak performances that spoilt the film?
- Overall rating out of 5.