Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Lesson (2023) movie review and synopsis.

The adage that Sinclair paraphrases may have, um, originated with TS Eliot or with Igor Stravinsky, who applied it, of course, to composers. And it’s a concern that’s not entirely untrue and not entirely idle. Still, if you’ve been writing for a long time, even in the relatively unheralded trenches of criticism, you’re likely sick of hearing it. God knows I am. In any case, Sinclair’s observation, in addition to adding dimension to his character (not a particularly interesting dimension, given how tiresome observing his pet is), also serves as, by speaking the lines from which we must all be thoroughly tired, a sort of Chekhov phrase. Act-One-Gun for the plot.

“The Lesson,” directed by Alice Troughton from a script by Alex MacKeith, aspires to be loud but only reaches the top of a clichéd slag heap. The supposed protagonist is Daryl McCormack’s Liam, who was first seen being interviewed himself, talking about his first novel, about a downtrodden patriarch trying to restore power over his crumbling kingdom. In a flashback, independent Liam is called by “The Agency” (not the CIA) to audition for a tutorial gig. Bertie, son of literary lion Sinclair and his French wife Hélène (Julie Delpy), needs a leg to get into Oxford. Young, pale and with a bad attitude, Bert (Stephen McMillan) resists Liam’s friendly suggestions to learn critical thinking and insults the boy at family dinners. However, Liam takes the gig, moves into the family mansion (this is a world in which status as a literary mandarin still pays handsomely) and starts putting Post-It notes on his mirror; observations on the family that he hopes will feed into a literary work of his own.

The Sinclairs are one of Tolstoy’s unhappy families; an older son, Felix, committed suicide by drowning in the manor’s lake several years ago. In another segment from a public interview, JM goes for a joke when asked about his son’s death. Among other things, the tragedy seems to have blocked JM

Hélène takes Liam to the point where she wants to hire him directly, ditching the “Agency”. In this movie, no one has ever seen any other movie, so Liam thinks this is a great idea. And he also very happily signed an NDA. We also learn that the window in Liam’s room – which used to belong to Felix (and the house seems to have many rooms, so why Liam has boarded such a painful space doesn’t make much sense, but go ahead) – looks right into Helena and JM’s bedroom, and one night Liam watches JM cunnilingus his wife. “Don’t do that, dude,” I told the screen as this happened. “This is a limit from which you cannot retreat.” Oops, then Hélène sees him looking and smiles. “You’re in it now, mate,” I told the screen. But honestly, I wasn’t that worried.

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HomeReviewsThe Lesson (2023) movie review and synopsis.

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