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Cracks movie poster

Cracks: Movie Review

Genre: Drama
Rated: Unrated

Directed by: Jordan Scott
Starring: Eva Green, Juno Temple, María Valverde, Imogen Poots
Released by: IFC Films

In Short: French actress Eva Green puts on a spellbinding performance as the mentally unstable coach of a girls' diving team in first-time director Jordan Scott’s compelling tale of erotic obsession.

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A Dark Study of Desire and Obsession

“The most important thing in life is desire.” Or so suggests Miss G, the enigmatic diving coach at the center of “Cracks,” the erotically-charged coming-of-age drama from first-time director Jordan Scott (daughter of Ridley). This is bold — and perhaps intentionally theatrical — advice to give to the young non-competitive diving team of a remote all-girls boarding school; however, it provides early insight into the seductive nature of the charismatic teacher and acts as an ominous harbinger of the dark tale of dangerous obsession that is yet to come.

Taking place primarily behind the cloister-like confines of an austere school in 1930’s England, “Cracks” follows a group of young girls as they strive to gain an understanding of the outside world from their sheltered vantage point. For the members of the fledgling diving team, who exhibit more spirit than skill, their most obvious source of inspiration is Miss G (Eva Green), their beautiful, flapperesque instructor who has a flair for melodramatic speeches and the occasional moonlit skinny dip. Devoted to and doted on by her charges, Miss G is something of an eccentric in the somber environment, and thrives off of the attention she receives as she weaves pulp fiction-like yarns about her daring escapades in exotic locales.

Although well portrayed by a talented cast of young actors along with the scene-stealing Green, there is nothing particularly new in Scott’s depiction of cliquish boarding school society. All of the stock character types are there — the pretty, overly-controlling leader of the pack, her loyal but mindless second-in-command and, of course, the chubby tagger-on with a heart of gold and a laughter-inducing belly flop.

Juno Temple and Eva Green in Cracks María Valverde in Cracks

However, things take a decidedly darker — and more interesting — turn with the arrival of Fiamma (Maria Valverde), a Spanish aristocrat with exotic looks and a killer one-and-a-half dive. In possession of striking beauty, expensive silk clothes and a worldly knowledge that even draws the jealousy of Miss G, Fiamma immediately provokes the ire of her new teammates and the desire of her instructor. Rather than return Miss G’s love, Fiamma instead scorns her adoration, sending the once-confident coach into a downward spiral of obsessive thoughts and potentially threatening actions. In the tense final third of the movie, Green puts on a spellbinding performance as a mentally disturbed woman driven to her wits’ end by an unhealthy infatuation. Once the center of the small world which she so carefully crafted, Miss G is forced through her relationship with Fiamma to reexamine the growing cracks in the façade that she wears — with deadly results.

Throughout the film, the lead actors’ top performances are bolstered by the beautiful cinematography of John Mathieson, which highlights the austerity of the English countryside and the overwhelming feeling of isolation experienced by Miss G and her team. For the young women of “Cracks,” diving may act as a way to escape from the harsh truths of oppressive reality; however, the dream must necessarily die with the return to the surface. We are not the center of our universe, the sublime landscape seems to tell us — we are merely specks on a vast and endless plain.

Reviewed by Nick Winfrey


(Updated: 03/14/11 CT)

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