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The Lesson

Oxford student Liam is meant to coach Bertie, the son of writer J.M. Sinclair, so he can get into Oxford. In the Sinclair house, a tense coldness prevails, the spirit of the dead older son is ever-present.

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THE LESSON is a cold psychological thriller reminiscent of Claude Chabrol from a distance. Oxford student Liam – which Daryl McCormack plays as a well-ironed, well-sorted person, all pleasant surface and courteous behavior, but also a bit transparent – gets hired by renowned writer J.M. Sinclair (Richard E. Grant). Liam is meant to tutor his son Bertie (Stephen MacMillan) so he can get into Oxford, but he is just as interested in Sinclair himself, since he happens to be the object of his dissertation. In the Sinclair household, a tense coldness looms. Richard E. Grant is excellent as always as the man of the house and a famous writer who dominates over everything and everyone with his quick verdicts. Julie Delpy as wife Hélène Sinclair is quiet, formidable, and dangerously full of resentment, and Bertie the son fervently despises his family while simultaneously being panicked about failing. In the background, the ever-present ghost of Felix, the oldest son in the family, hovers. Felix was ostensibly a genius who drowned in the water lily pond of the estate. Sinclair hasn’t been able to write a novel since the death. A British manor, a broken family, a struggling career, art, literature and Sinclair’s motto “great writers steal their material“ – THE LESSON has all of the ingredients for an entertaining thriller and has a very good ensemble, but unfortunately it suffers from a confusing screenplay by debut screenwriter Alex MacKeith. Some motifs are overused, others, like the novel that Liam is secretly working on, or the artworks that Hélène surrounds herself with, aren’t really made use of, and the twist at the end doesn’t quite live up to what the beginning promises.

Hendrike Bake (INDIEKINO MAGAZIN)

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Deutschland/Großbritannien 2023, 102 min
Language: English
Genre: Thriller
Director: Alice Troughton
Author: Alex MacKeith
DOP: Anna Patarakina
Montage: Paulo Pandolpho
Music: Isobel Waller-Bridge
Distributor: 24 Bilder
Cast: Richard E. Grant, Julie Delpy, Daryl McCormack, Stephen McMillan, Crispin Letts
Release: 26.10.2023

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Screenings

  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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