Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' The 10 Best Films Of 2004 The 10 Best Films Of 2004 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Review: 'Cracks' An Elegant, Dramatic Debut By Jordan Scott

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 15, 2011 at 3:16AM

As the niece of Tony Scott and daughter of Ridley Scott, there's no doubt that director Jordan Scott has filmmaking in her blood, but for her feature debut, the helmer has taken on a subject matter far removed from the usual tentpole ready, popcorn spectacle of her father and uncle. "Cracks," which debuted at TIFF way back in 2009 and is finally getting a release thanks to IFC Films, is a film that seems curiously not to be getting the attention it deserves and we're not sure why. Assured and elegant, "Cracks" is a complex character study about the illusions we build that keep us from slipping out of sanity.
6


As the niece of Tony Scott and daughter of Ridley Scott, there's no doubt that director Jordan Scott has filmmaking in her blood, but for her feature debut, the helmer has taken on a subject matter far removed from the usual tentpole ready, popcorn spectacle of her father and uncle. "Cracks," which debuted at TIFF way back in 2009 and is finally getting a release thanks to IFC Films, is a film that seems curiously not to be getting the attention it deserves and we're not sure why. Assured and elegant, "Cracks" is a complex character study about the illusions we build that keep us from slipping out of sanity.

When we first meet Miss G (Eva Green) she's a breath of fresh air to the stodgy surroundings of the all-girls boarding school in England. Younger than the rest of staff and dressed in the latest fashions, Miss G has a sort of John Keats effect on her students, who are enraptured by her tales of daring adventure and stern, but effective enthusiasm that these young girls make something of themselves and challenge the conventions. Particularly taken with Miss G is Di (Juno Temple), the leader of the young pack of rebellious girls who fall under the teacher's care. She is a clear favorite of Miss G's who holds Di's accomplishments as the standard and bar for the rest to follow. The rest of the students are only all too happy to let Di guide them and there is an intricate, but steadily held balance of relationships that keeps students and teacher alike on an even keel.


However, all that changes with the arrival of Fiamma (María Valverde). The daughter of Spanish aristocracy, she is immediately an object of intrigue and jealousy among the group. She displays a worldly experience the rest of her classmates don't have -- she's actually kissed a boy and packages from her parents arrive with strange stamps and ever stranger, more exciting gifts of foods and trinkets -- moreover, she has traveled, setting foot in a number of different countries. Miss G immediately takes a shine to Fiamma, but something curious happens -- the new student isn't interested in the attention and she also sees right through her teacher's tall tales. Miss G is immediately stung and insecure by the rejection and so begins a game of wooing her affections by whatever means necessary; even if it means pitting the other students against her in an effort to keep her in line. In the midst of all this, Di is severely hurt and bewildered by Miss G casting her aside for this exotic new girl and Fiamma is left caught in the middle, between two warring sides to which Fiamma's approval offers a window into a world outside the boarding school.

Certainly, the thematic breadth of the material is not new. The film is a unique mix that falls somewhere between "Dead Poet's Society," "Lord of the Flies" and "Heavenly Creatures," and as enticing as that sounds, every beat and turn of the plot you'll be able to figure out well in advance. That being said, "Cracks" remains utterly compelling and moving, largely due to the talent both in front of and behind the camera. Eva Green, who broke out in "The Dreamers" and made her mainstream mark in "Casino Royale," has since been stuck in failed tentpoles and ignored indies. What people tend to forget is that in addition to being breathtakingly beautiful, Green is a damn fine actress and here she shows off her chops in spades. Watching Miss G slowly crumble from a strong leader to a vulnerable, desperate woman who needs her student's adoration more than she lets on, is a wondrous transition to watch. Green plays the notes slyly, hiding her deteriorating emotional state behind those smoky eyes and fantastic wardrobe, revealing it instead in small gestures and nervous glances. On the other end of the spectrum, Juno Temple -- who will emerge as one of the finest actresses of her age group if someone gives her a shot -- remains steely even as Di's allegiances shift seemingly day to day between Fiamma and Miss G.

But it's under the guidance of Jordan Scott that all of this works so well. Unlike Ridley or Tony, her camera is unobtrusive, her style unfussy and humble. She trusts in the material -- the film is based off a book by Sheila Kohler -- and more importantly, she lets her cast do the work. Visually, the film looks gorgeous, no doubt aided by longtime Ridley Scott collaborator cinematographer John Mathieson ("Gladiator," "Kingdom of Heaven." "Matchstick Men," "Hannibal"), but the film also breathes easy in the pacing, which again, shuns the more twitchy techniques of her relatives. Scott shows a natural instinct for letting the dramatic arc of the film unfold naturally without any need to push or prod its flow, and frankly, is a bit refreshing to experience.

With the air and tenor of classic period drama but with a much more modern emotional core, "Cracks" is more than worth your time, even with its resemblance to other similarly styled dramas. It's rare to find a film so heavily focused on rich, detailed female characters (there are no males in the film except for a few extremely minor parts) and an even rarer one in which they are so well drawn. "Cracks" marks a strong debut from another member of the Scott family, and one we hope to see more from soon. [B]

This article is related to: Films, Review, Cracks


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates