¨A child's intelligent heart can fathom the depth of many dark places, but can it fathom the delicate moment of its own detachment? ¨
Detachment is a very interesting film although I wouldn’t say it`s entertaining. It raises a lot of questions and social issues without giving many answers, but it does make us aware of many problems that our society is facing when it comes to the educational system and parents lack of involvement in it. I thought Detachment was a beautiful film and despite it being a narrative it didn’t seem like one; it is sort of poetic at times and has some great use of imagery. Adrian Brody is such a talented actor, and despite winning the Oscar for his brilliant work in The Pianist, I think he is very underrated in Hollywood. He is so good in this movie, and in my opinion it`s his best performance since The Pianist. He was one of the reasons why I wanted to see this film; the other being that it was directed by Tony Kaye, the man responsible for American History X, which is on my list of favorite films. His films are powerful, thought provoking, and Detachment is not the exception. He can make memorable films although you wouldn’t necessarily call them entertaining. In Detachment we are introduced to a very common problem: education. Kaye makes us wonder whether or not education is the teacher or parent`s responsibility. Probably both, but unfortunately neither seem to be doing a great job and our society is losing its educational battle. Kids seem to find values somewhere else and base their self worth on what their friends think of them, meanwhile parents and teachers seem to do nothing about restoring their value. Parenting and teaching are great responsibilities, and as Brody says in one of his monologues in the movie there should be prerequisites to parenting and not anyone should be allowed too.
Adrian Brody plays a substitute teacher, Mr. Barthes, who believes he has the perfect job because he doesn’t have to carry the burden of identifying or carrying for his students. He can travel from one school to another. He is a lonely, quiet, and sad man who doesn’t like attaching to anyone. He seems to have some disturbing memories about his past and doesn’t like to talk about his problems so traveling from place to place is a good way to remain detached to society. His life will change when he gets his latest assignment at a very problematic school run by Principle Carol Dearden (Marcia Gay Harden). The students in this school give the teachers a very hard time and many of them seem to be going through a living hell. Mr. Barthes identifies with some of the teachers and students here. Mr. Seaboldt (James Caan), Ms. Madison (Christina Hendricks), Ms. Perkins (Blythe Danner), Mr. Wiatt (Tim Blake Nelson), and Dr. Doris Parker (Lucy Liu) are all part of the school faculty and all seem to be going through some sort of personal hardship. Mr. Barthes begins to identify himself with some of these people like Ms. Madison who seems as lonely as he is. He also begins to give special attention to one of his students named Meredith (Betty Kaye) who despite being talented doesn’t really value herself. Another person who begins to influence Mr. Barthes is a young hooker named Erica (Sami Gayle) who he picks up from the street and begins to care for as a child. As much as Barthes wants to remain detached to people he begins to identify with many of them and without realizing it attaching to them.
Detachment has a great cast. As I mentioned before this is Adrian Brody`s best work since The Pianist, but I also have to give a lot of credit to young Sami Gayle who delivers a powerful performance as the lonely hooker who is taken advantage of and really has no self worth whatsoever. Director Kaye seems to raise this issue quite a bit since there are many characters who have little or no self value and in a way Brody`s character tries to teach them that they have value and don’t have to live based on the expectations or values given to them by others. James Caan and Christina Hendricks also give believable performances as part of the faculty. They are very different in character, but I think we all can identify them to some of the teachers we`ve had in the past. There are some very strong performances in this film and also some great dialogues. The script was written by first time screenwriter, Carl Lund, and it really is thought provoking. The imagery that Kaye uses is also very beautiful. There is a sense of claustrophobia as we see these long shots closing in on the school hallway, and emptiness when we see the abandoned classrooms. Detachment might not be an entertaining film you can watch with your friends, but it is a very interesting and thought provoking film.