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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

The Teacher ***


Starring: Diego Velázquez, Ezequiel Tronconi, Valentin Mayor Borzone, Ana Katz 

Directors: Julian Dabien, Cristina Tamagnini 

Country: Argentina

UK Release: NQV Media

 

In a sleepy town in central Argentina, Natalio (Velázquez) is a committed elementary teacher, adored by his students and valued by the community. When an old friend, Juani (Tronconi), contacts him in dire straits, Natalio agrees to this figure from his past staying at his house temporarily. But the town isn’t ready for this whirlwind of a man, whose eccentric behaviour sets tongues wagging about the nature of his relationship with their beloved teacher. And because Natalio does harbour feelings for his guest, he is unable to see the damage their friendship is doing until it’s too late.


Based on the true story of director Tamagnini’s own teachers, this drama about a small-minded community is a powerful depiction of how gossip can go awry. As we have seen in countless films, there is no force quite as powerful as a group of mothers out for blood. And it’s Natalio they’ve placed on the chopping block here, casting aside all their respect for him professionally for the sake of their invented scandal.


In the grand scheme of flamboyance Juani is actually quite conservative, but because he doesn’t fit with the town’s traditional family values, he moves quickly from curiosity to pariah. But this character is indicative of the film’s major flaw, which is that it doesn’t capitalise on its own dramatic potential. The characters aren’t quite big enough, the narrative doesn’t go far enough and the antagonists only go so far in their crusade to bring Natalio down. There’s a lot of subtlety to the film, but in trying to remain nuanced it has ended up over-restrained. The result is a film that competently makes its point, but does so politely and without making a fuss.

 

UK Release: 11th March 2024 on VOD, released by NQV Media

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