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In Director Tony Kaye's Detachment, Adrien Brody stars as Henry Barthes, an educator with a true talent to connect with his students. Yet Henry has chosen to bury his gift. By spending his days as a substitute teacher, he conveniently avoids any emotional connections by never staying anywhere long enough to form an attachment to either students or colleagues. When a new assignment places him at a public school where a frustrated, burned-out administration has created an apathetic student body, Henry soon becomes a role model to the disaffected youth. In finding an unlikely emotional connection to the students, teachers, and a runaway teen he takes in from the streets, Henry realizes that he's not alone in his life and death struggle to find beauty in a seemingly vicious and loveless world
Still best known for American History X, a film he tried to have his name removed from, director Tony Kaye's work has remained consistent and interesting ever since. It's been a lot lower profile too. Detachment is a case in point. Whereas American films about teachers taking on an unruly class in a trouble school generally end with either Oscar nominations or a hit single, Detachment is a lot more serious, and consequently more interesting, about its work.
It follows a brilliant teacher, played by Adrien Brody, who goes from school to school as a substitute, rather than committing and getting attached to the one place. That inevitably changes, but the film's viewpoint on life doesn't. There's no gloss here, rather a superbly acted, down to earth drama, that has as much to say about the school system it's portraying as it does its individual characters.
It's a shame that Detachment got such a low-key cinema release, something reflected in the straightforward disc debut too. There are a few extras here, but nothing that adds a great deal to the package. That's a pity too, as the film is superb, courageous, and quite brilliantly acted. Brody is as good here as he was in his Oscar-winning turn in The Pianist, and Detachment deserves all the exposure it can get. --Jon Foster
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No way can it be compared to other well-meaning efforts which attempt to engage us with the lives of disaffected teenagers
-- everyone in this story is messed up (to put it politely!)
I was riveted the whole time, while I did have to look away when things get VERY frank & basic (no spoilers!)
And we ask questions, which is always a good sign.....if Erica's story suggests a glimmer of hope, why does Barthes appear to be at the end of his rope as he narrates his story? There's a link with 'The Fall of the House of Usher' & an image of Surreal destruction of a system that isn't even keeping kids out of harm's way😱
Direction, & some intriguing cutting, just great!
Acting from the whole cast superb -- Lucy Liu, in the scene where she 'loses it', is wonderfully expressive of the feelings of a School Staff who are being constantly reminded that they CARE TOO MUCH!
Will watch this any number of times and will love it every time - Adrien Brody as always is a phenomenal actor and the actress Sami Gayle playing prostitute Erica - well I couldn't imagine she was acting, she was simply amazing !
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