The noblest profession gets put through the paper shredder in this gloomy examination of a troubled high school in Mineola. "Detachment" explores a range of education ills from bullies to student apathy, plummeting test scores, and a burnt out faculty.
Director Tony Kaye, having explored neo-Nazism in "American History X," has turned the spotlight on the American troubled public school system by using ex-teacher Carl Lund’s script and interspersing the action with talking heads, animation, interviews with real-life teachers, and grainy flashback sequences.
"Detachment" stars Adrien Brody as Henry Barthes, a substitute teacher who flits from teaching assignment to teaching assignment, remains aloof in performing his duties to his troubled students and never stays long enough at any school. In spite of his remote manner and his efforts to come to terms with his family’s demons, the detached Barthes manages to form bonds with lonely student Meredith (played by Kaye’s daughter, Betty Kaye) and a teenage prostitute Erica (Sami Gayle). Brody superbly leads an all-star cast, which includes: Marcia Gay Harden, the high school principal who’s been put on notice, Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), James Caan, and Lucy Liu as fellow teachers and staff trying to make it through the day.
Going against the typical inspirational teacher movie, this one, with its pessimistic outlook is alarmingly realistic and depressing, but still worth viewing.
Special Features include an Interview with Director Tony Kaye and Adrien Body, presented by American Express, and Interviews from the Red Carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival Premiere in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. No subtitles available. Runtime: 98 min., plus extras.