While she’s attracting attention on Starz’s hit series “Camelot,” the public should also follow her to this low-key thriller.
She plays Miss G, a teacher at an out-of-the-way British boarding school for girls in the 1930s. Amid an otherwise old-maid faculty, her youth and beauty make her popular among the students. On the surface, she’s an exuberant woman who lives for the moment and exudes a positive attitude that’s infectious; that’s a cover, however, for a tortured soul that’s as enigmatic as her name.
I don’t want to give away the twists and turns of this indie thriller, because it will hook you from the start with splendid photography and keep you entranced with a compelling story comprised of strong characters. I can say that Miss G’s pet student, Di (Juno Temple, “Greenberg”), isn’t at all happy with her teacher’s sudden interest in the new arrival, Fiamma (Spanish actress María Valverde), reportedly a princess. That aristocratic nature puts Fiamma in the sights of Di and her “Mean Girls”-esque minions (among them, the unfortunately named Imogen Poots of “28 Weeks Later,” here radiating like a young Kate Winslet), making her a target of their cruel behavior, and setting up one twisted variation on the love triangle.
Green is a knockout, both in the physical sense and in her performance, and the unknown-to-these-shores Valverde is near her equal. In everything I’ve seen her in, Temple has always bothered me, but at least here, she’s supposed to. (That said, I hope her casting in the next Batman movie doesn’t ruin “The Dark Knight Rises” for me.)
If there’s a star to single out, it’s the one behind the camera: Jordan Scott. The daughter of A-list director Ridley Scott (“Gladiator”), she proves that great filmmaking is in the genres. With a quiet score and precise angles that suggest careful planning in service of the story, she has crafted a feature — her first, believe it or not — full of indelible images, but also pulse-quickening tension. —Rod Lott