Los Angeles Times: Zuzana Mauréry played the Teacher brilliantly

The Slovak-Czech co-production film The Teacher is an exceptional lesson on corruption in the communist society, with brilliant actress Zuzana Mauréry in the main role, the Los Angeles Times wrote.

Zuzana Mauréry as The TeacherZuzana Mauréry as The Teacher (Source: Karlovy Vary International Film Festival)

The review is the result of the fact that the movie is being screened in this Californian city right now, Medialne.trend.sk website wrote.

“Teachers teach, but that’s not all. For students, they’re the dictators of classroom time and space, for parents they’re gatekeepers who determine their child’s future,” Kenneth Turan wrote for the Entertainment section of the paper, adding that “add a provocative twist to this eternal dynamic and the result is the exceptional The Teacher.”

The movie, although in Slovak, is the work of the veteran Czech team, director Jan Hřebejk and writer Petr Jarchovský, who collaborated on the Oscar-nominated Divided We Fall. Unlike the latter, The Teacher is set in Bratislava in 1983 during the communist era.“The Teacher’s strength, in fact, is that it functions beautifully on parallel levels,” Turan opines, adding that “like the remarkable films eastern European countries turned out regularly during the Soviet era, it marries a character-driven story with social concerns, in this case a deft parable about the kind of corrupt privileged society nominally egalitarian socialism created”.

The NYT point to parallels and allegories

“While somewhat on the nose as allegory, the movie deftly illustrates that a culture of collaboration — whether in Bratislava in the 1980s or, indeed, any political or workplace context — requires active participation, even if subconscious,” Ben Kenigsberg wrote in The New York Times about the film. “When Maria (Zuzana Mauréry) backs down on the cake-smuggling request, Marek (Csongor Kassai), the airport accountant, is so relieved that he offers to drive her to her country cottage, seemingly oblivious that he’s being pressed into a different kind of service.”

Both reviews liken the Teacher to “12 Angry Men”, especially in some parts…. “In the scenes of the parents trying to convince one another to sign. Contrary to the idea that strength comes in numbers, The Teacher illustrates that some of the parents, while individually upset, are afraid to speak up as a group. They’ve already bought into a corrupt system, acceding to the teacher’s demands, and signing the petition is tantamount to an admission of guilt,” Kenigsberg notes.

However, The Teacher doesn’t dare take its premise to darker places by having Maria prod the parents too far beyond the bounds of their own moral compasses — a logical conclusion of this story, the reviewer writes, adding that “as the psychologist Stanley Milgram’s experiments on obedience showed — and some governments have learned — a flock in thrall to an authority figure may follow that person anywhere”.

The Teacher was screened at several film festivals, including Toronto and Karlovy Vary, and has won the national film award, The Sun in the Net.

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