The Teacher | Chicago Reader

The Teacher

98 minutes 2016

Set in Slovakia in the early 1980s, this 2016 Czech drama from the team of director Jan Hrebejk and writer Petr Jarchovský (Up and Down, Divided We Fall) hinges on a devious middle-school teacher (Zuzana Mauréry, fantastic) who uses her Communist Party connections to intimidate her students and their parents. When they realize that the teacher is punishing or rewarding the students based on their and their parents’ fulfillment of her many after-school favors, four dissenting parents summon the rest to discuss the matter with the principal. This meeting, intercut with ominous flashbacks to the start of the school year, serves as a microcosm of Czechoslovakia in the last years of the Eastern bloc, divided into vocal supporters of the regime, who demand loyalty; objectors, who demand fairness; and submissives—the largest group—who remain silent. Though flecked with dark humor, the film is a chilling reminder of what people can get away with, and what can become normal, if one consents to an oppressive system. In Slovak with subtitles.

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