The Country Teacher is an excellent examination of the human condition

In The Country Teacher Pavel Liska plays the role of a young and disillusioned teacher who arrives in a small farming town in the Czech Republic hoping to find independence and purpose in life while at the same time trying to escape his past. The teacher befriends a single mother named Maria (Zuzana Bydzovska) and agrees to tutor her delinquent son (Ladislav Ledivy). After initial difficulties the teacher and boy eventually form a bond, akin to a father and son. Eventually the film reveals that the teacher is a closeted homosexual, and a visit from a former lover reveals the troubled life that he is attempting to leave behind.

The teacher’s relationship with his ex is volatile and after the lover is rejected by the teacher he, in retaliation, flirts with The Boys girlfriend which leads to a violent confrontation. The lover leaves the countryside (with The Boys girlfriend) leaving the teacher and boy emotionally broken and lonely. The teacher becomes reliant on The Boys attention which leads him commit an act that will possibly alienate him from the community and people that he has come to love.

From the very first shot we see that this is a film about leaving your past behind and starting over from scratch. The teacher walks into this small farming village carrying nothing but a schoolbag despite being from the bustling city of Prague. The mother character, through her husband’s death, has just been released from an abusive relationship and the son who has garnered a reputation of disobedience is trying to establish a new image and life for himself. Nearly all of the interactions between these characters are cries for attention and nearly all of these different advances are rejected. Each of these characters sees in one another the qualities that they are missing in their own lives, but the people that they desire are unwilling or unable to give them what they need. For each of these characters there is a boundary that has been place between them and crossing that boundary will result in the end of whichever relationship has been established. This element of the film seems to comment on human beings tendency to see in others the qualities that they wish they had themselves, resulting in disappointing and troubled relationships.

An impressive irony of the film is that despite the dark elements and questionable activities that the characters engage in the film is surprisingly heart-warming. The simple and endearing countryside setting provides a constant sense of hope and redemption. Regardless of what the characters do, as a viewer you find it hard to cast judgment or carry any sort of disdain for the characters. The characters in the film, all seem to be aware of their flaws and therefore we are forced to empathize with them.
The film has won numerous awards and acclaim for its cinematography and it is just deserved. The film is brilliantly shot and the visuals help the film maintain pacing even during the slower moments in terms of narrative. Rarely do you a see a film that takes place in such a simple setting and it takes a lot of confidence on the part of a filmmaker to feel that they can tell and entertaining and deep story without the aid of a simulating environment. The acting in the film is superb particularly of the lead Pavel Liska, who delivers a performance that varies through the emotions of regret, pain, depression, guilt and ultimately redemption.

The Country Teacher is an excellent examination of the human condition, and an even more excellent example of topnotch filmmaking. Through, comedy, drama and even at times suspense The Country Teacher is a simple film that is emotionally gripping as well as inspiring.

Weak: 1 Star   Average: 2 Stars   Good: 3 Stars   Very Good: 4 Stars   Excellent: 5 Stars


About Author

Ed Yealu

Ed Yealu was born and raised in New Jersey and in 2006 graduated from Cedar Grove High School. He is currently a 3rd year TV/Video/Film major at Hofstra University in Long Island, NY. He has always had a passion for film but he but he decided to turn it into a career when he was a freshman in high school. He is actively involved with Hofstra’s Student film magazine High Angle. He has always had a deep interest in foreign films and foreign cultures and is always eager to learn more about the world. Doesn’t speak Japanese but is known to try. In his opinion a good night is best spent with a DVD a warm blanket and a notepad.

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