DIR: Jordan Scott • WRI: Caroline Ip, Ben Court • PRO: Kwesi Dickson, Andrew Lowe, Julie Payne, Rosalie Swedlin, Christine Vachon • DOP: John Mathieson • ED: Valerio Bonelli • DES: Ben Scott • CAST: Eva Green, Juno Temple, María Valverde

Cracks is one of those films that has infinite potential to disappoint. A slightly less lurid tone or slightly more hammy performances and this would have been not only a dull film, but also a disastrously over-the-top film. Thankfully, the tone is perfect, the casting spot-on and the story is gloriously dark.

Set in 1930s Britain in an all-girls boarding school, Cracks examines the relationship between the girls on the school’s diving team and their mentor, the glamorous and beautiful Ms G. (Eva Green). The ‘leader’ of these girls is Di Radfield (Juno Temple), as charismatic as she is cruel. She is the most popular girl in school and also shares a special intimacy with Ms. G. When the arrival of new girl, Fiamma, an aristocrat from Spain, is announced, all hell breaks loose and the relationships suddenly become very complex indeed.

It is difficult to categorise this film. It examines the lives of teenagers and the social constructs in their world but the themes are so adult that it would never be categorised as a ‘teen movie’. I suppose it would be most like a coming of age drama, though not like any I have ever seen. Similar in tone to Peter Weir’s haunting Picnic at Hanging Rock, this is a film of many layers. It examines the hierarchy of the social structure and the unsteady line between being hated and being admired. As Fiamma begins to show her personality and all it has to offer, it is interesting to see how the girls flip-flop between loving her and hating her.

As well as a coming of age story, this is also a very interesting look at mental health problems. Eva Green’s Ms. G is breathtakingly confident and beautiful and full of exciting stories of her adventures abroad. However, as the story darkens, the extent of her emotional problems becomes clear and suddenly her inappropriate relationship with her students becomes all the more creepy.

Turning in a tremendous performance as Di, Juno Temple cements her status, in my eyes at least, as one of the best emerging actresses of the moment. I’ve been keeping an eye on this young star since her spectacular turn in Joe Wright’s Atonement and she has not disappointed. Here, she has the film all to herself and she turns in a truly magnificent performance. The same can be said for Eva Green. Who could resist the role of Ms. G? It is so dark and multi-layered, it would be a joy for any actress. Few, however, could pull it off with the grace and texture that Green brings to it.

I highly recommend this film. Admirably unafraid to delve into some seriously dark territory, this film may disturb some people. However, it is a fantastic piece of cinema and a study of isolation that stayed with me long after I left the cinema.

Charlene Lydon
(See biog here)

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
release date Dec 2009

Cracks – IMDb Page