Lesson (The)
R2 - United Kingdom - Icon Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (15th July 2016).
The Film

Fin (Evan Bendall) lives in a dysfunctional household with his older Brother Jake (Tom Cox) and Jake's foreign, and abused, girlfriend Mia (Michaela Prchalova). Fin is on the cusp of turning sixteen, and like many teenagers of this age, is a bit of a tearaway. He, along with best friend Joel (Rory Coltart) spend their time indulging in such unwholesome activities such as vandalism, stealing, smoking marijuana, and being generally unpleasant. Whilst Fin does seem to have a softer side to his personality Joel on the other hand is just plain unpleasant. This behaviour culminates in school one day during an English lesson being presided over by Mr Gale (Robert Hands). As Mr Gale tries to teach the assembled class about the works of Charles Dickens and, more aptly, William Golding, he has chewing gum stuck in his hair and then is verbally abused by Joel who threatens him with physical violence. Later Fin witnesses Jake start to rape Mia. Fin has a crush on Mia, the only person in Fin's World who shows him any kind of compassion. Fin's Father works abroad in Tenerife and his Mother, who is seen caring for Fin in a serious of flashbacks, is absent from his life. On the day of Fin's sixteenth Birthday he rows with his Brother Jake and then vandalises Jake's car. Fin spends the rest of the day with Joel and as they make their way home the pair of friends are attacked from behind and incapacitated with a hammer blow to the head. When Fin comes around from his unconscious state he finds himself tethered to a table and chair and Mr Gale in front of him determined to teach young Fin a lesson.

We have all encountered teenagers being unruly and obnoxious, whether it be in our own homes or just in passing on a bus. More often than not, being sensible, upstanding, responsible adults, we simply tut to ourselves or shake our heads ruefully, after all we were all children once. And, more often than not, the moments pass, we alight from our bus and, thankfully, never see the little shits again. Being a teacher means you see this teenagers on a daily basis, five days a week, seven hours a day, for the best part of at least five years. It's enough to test anyone's patience. Mr Gale in 'The Lesson' has obviously had his patience tested beyond it's endurance. We see, in our first scene with the teacher, that he has a Mother in a hospital or nursing home. He lives alone, surrounded by books and not much else. The very brief peak we get into Mr Gale's life is not a particularly happy one. Fin's World is not much different except Fin's home is empty. No books, no love and bar a map of the World, nothing. Fin's only real role model is the deeply unpleasant Joel. Joel encourages Fin to steal, to drink, to smoke and to vandalise. Fin is not completely blameless. He does have the choice of following the words and actions of Joel or those of Mr Gale and he chooses the former. 'The Lesson' is thick with social commentary, some of it handled in a rather heavy handed manner, but ultimately the slick style of writing and the rather wonderful acting performances win through. Written and directed by Ruth Platt 'The Lesson' is an excellent movie which will have some gore hounds scratching their heads, especially during the second half when the actual lesson is delivered. Personally I found the lesson part of the film wonderfully unique and only falls apart towards the end when Mia is captured by Mr Gale who, rather inappropriately, has a brief, fleeting, lust after his former pupil. Director Platt occasionally lets the camera wander a bit too much and holds scenes for a bit too long (do we really need to see Mia wandering aimlessly smoking a cigarette for over a minute) but these are minor quibbles in what is an excellent film. For those coming to 'The Lesson' expecting pure torture porn may come away slightly disappointed (although there is plenty of blood letting to be had) but those who like their films to be on the slightly deeper side will revel in the themes and allegorys within 'The Lesson'. And if you don't know what an allegory is then 'The Lesson' is perfect for you.

Video

'The Lesson' is presented here on this Icon Entertainment DVD in it's original anamorphic aspect ratio of 1.85:1 The picture quality is excellent with no signs of dirt, grain or any print damage at all. The colour palette is well presented ranging from the cold, harsh blues of the council estates (which in all truth look quite nice compared to some council estates I have seen) to the beautiful warm sunsets. The dimly lit lock up where the final half of the film takes place is very well lit by the cinematographer and despite the gloom the picture quality in these scenes do not suffer at all.

Audio

The only soundtrack option is an English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 one. This is perfectly acceptable especially as the film is heavily weighted in the dialogue department. The musical part of the soundtrack is sparse but when it does come into play is rich and warm. English HoH subtitles are available.

Extras

Introduction (2.19) - The film is introduced by Alan Jones and Paul McEvoy from Frightfest Presents who, quite rightly wax lyrical about this 'social realist horror' and 'intellectual slasher' (although don't let that put you off).

Outtakes (2.30) - A series of funny out takes from the film.

Trailers - Four trailers featuring other films from the Frightfest Presents series. These are;
- The Unfolding (1.35)
- Landmine Goes Click (1.42)
- Curtain (1.16)
- Last Girl Standing (1.49)

Overall

'The Lesson' is beautifully acted by its young cast, ably directed, wittily written and just one massive dose of fun. It's not perfect by any means but it's pretty damn close and may actually teach you something along the way. I had a blast watching it. Now, what is an allegory? I'll give you ten seconds to answer then I'm getting out my nail gun.

The Film: A Video: A- Audio: B+ Extras: C- Overall: A-

 


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