An alienated high school girl (Agnes Bruckner) finds solace through a devoted English teacher (David Strathairn) who nurtures her poetic gifts. Northwestern University grad Karen Moncrieff's Sundance hit starts out as a pedagogical heart-warmer in the tradition of The Corn Is Green and Educating Rita, then veers toward Maury Povich territory when the heroine's pesky little sister descends into self-mutilating psychosis and the revered teacher develops extracurricular feelings for his dewy protege. Shot, despite its low budget, in a glossy TV-movie style, this film about poetry lacks any sense of poetry or evocative detail—staging a funeral in the rain seems to be the limit of first-time director Moncrieff's expressive reach. And Bruckner, too pretty and placid for the insecure outcast she plays, would be more convincing as a troubled cheerleader than as a fledgling Plath. 87 min.