The Twenty-First Century

Detachment [2011]

Don’t you hate it when good movies often go unnoticed? The title of this strange but completely absorbing  movie is meant to provoke a “what is it?” question. Let me give you a hint. Over the years, many films depicted the horrors of the American educational system, from “Dangerous Minds” to “Freedom Writers”. But none were as powerful or shocking as “Detachment”, the latest effort from director Tony Kaye (“American History X”). It’s nothing like your typical movie about a substitute teacher coming in to inspire a bunch of rotten students. Adrien Brody, delivering his finest performance since his Oscar winning role in “The Pianist” plays our central character. His latest assignment is at an inner-city public school that is clearly falling apart. The principal (Marcia Gay Harden) is about to be forced out, the teachers and other staff members all seem to have problems of their own, and the vast majority of students don’t care much about learning. Sweet. But that’s not all. While attempting to handle this mess, Brody must also deal with a grandfather suffering from dementia, and…wait for it…a teenage prostitute who he tries to help by taking her under his wing.Told you it was depressing. But that is not to say that “Detachment” is not a good film, because it is. The story is absorbing mostly because of the great performances. The cast could not do better. Brody gives by far one of his most honest performances (now you know why he’s one of the best actors out there). The supporting cast is made up of some good actors as well, from Christina Hendricks, Marcia Gay Harden, Lucy Liu, to James Caan, who gives the only comic relief in the movie. But deep down, “Detachment” is a movie that aches with sadness. Some may believe that such a depressing movie shouldn’t exist, but perhaps those people are too attached to their happy endings. What we really need is more films like “Detachment” to show us the harsh reality we live in.

Rating: 3/4

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