"Detachment" is the new film starring Adrian Brody, who is becoming large in my eyes for his keen acting ability. His own eyes reflect the detachment of the title and the great sorrow detachment brings. He is not part of us; he belongs elsewhere, but while he's here, let's cling fiercely to him for all he's worth or let's ignore him totally.This is the view of his students, the substitute who has come to these modern existentialists, those who are also detached. Those not are ignored in this film.
Brody plays a permanent substitute teacher who moves from school to school, filling in for first one teacher then the next. His job mirrors his commitment-less life. One point he makes is that we all have secrets. His is seeing his pitiful mother naked and dead as a young boy. It's a story etched in his face and blast through his eyes. It helps him present depressing literature to a class full of pained and hurting teenagers. They sense his depths of pain and want to commit to him, drain his life, pulse it into their own veins of emptiness and loneliness and despair.
A female colleague tells Brody's character that she is afraid of going home. Her soul is also devoid of emotion--it's just hollowness. She's Eliot's hollow man. She is all right in the classroom where she is engaged and engaging, yet all those hours alone at home are just too frightening to consider.
Lucy Liu plays the counselor who abhors counseling because of the horror she encounters in these teens' abysmal lives. Finally, she tells one girl who has a dwarfish soul to get "the f.... out of her office." It's a powerful scene of one educator completely coming unglued and letting the knives out of the drawer.
One iota of joy concludes this celluloidic adventure: the prostitute teen whom Brody's character befriends, well, the film is worth this last scene, this little iota of joy or something like joy.
The film is presented much like a documentary on the barren life of a teacher and the teens in his/her arena. There is much about the film that rings so true (spoken by a teacher of 40 years), and perhaps much that is exaggerated. The director pushes a heavy hand to draw attention to the utter despair that is our modern times in far too many lives.
Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)
- *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
- The Odd Women by George Gissing
- The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
- How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
- The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
- In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
- *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
- Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
- The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
- Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
- Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
- Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
- The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
- Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
- Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
- Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
- *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
- Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
- A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
- The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
- Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
- *Ruined by Paula Morris
- Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
- Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
- Silence by Shusaku Endo
- *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
- Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
- *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
- Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
- *The Giver by Lois Lowery
- *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski