“Sometimes you have to take a risk in order to be rewarded.”
So lectures the drama professor to his acting students in the opening scene of Teach’er, a lesson that one of his students will teach him the hard way by the end in a delicious act of revenge.
The Canadian short film is about the politics of competitive student theatre, including everything from sex to blackmail.
The lead character Jason is an acting student who goes to wild lengths to win an acting apprenticeship -- except, it seems, work on his acting. He is so repulsive he sends instant messages on his smart phone while receiving oral sex.
The film was well acted, particularly by Robert Nolan, who plays the sarcastic, morally-confused professor – a type of role he played brilliantly in last year’s short film Worm. Nolan plays his character with just the right amount of condescension and arrogance for a role like this. At first I wasn’t sure what to think of Cameron Rufelds, the actor who plays Jason. I thought he played anger unconvincingly, but I quickly changed my mind: Rufelds's over-the-top performance quietly, but brilliantly, shows us how insecure and desperate his character really is.
But there were some annoying points. The dialogue is awkward in parts, most notably early in the film when, after a sarcastic exchange with his girlfriend, Jason tells her, “We’ll be in touch.” Who says that to his girlfriend?
And then there’s one weird scene in which director Cody Campanale tries too hard to make an apple, a long symbol of respect students give their teachers, a literary device. In weirdly long, quiet, awkward blocking, Jason pulls out the apple, stares at it, then puts it on the desk of the professor with an audible thud to get his professor’s attention. In awkward pauses during the heated exchange with his professor, Jason picks up the apple again and puts it down, closer to him and later bites into it. We get it. The apple is Jason’s way of saying “F— You” to his professor. It’s too forced.
Also, the soundtrack is terrible. The abrasive guitar and whiny vocals remind me of a late 90s teen movie, only the music isn’t even that good.
But these are tolerable issues in a clever, engaging film that kind of made me want to get into acting again – provided I don’t end up with a professor like Nolan’s character and I don't date an actor like Jason.