The Country Teacher Bohdan Slama

The Country Teacher Bohdan Slama
Featuring a self-hating homosexual protagonist running away from his problems, mixing up roles of caregiver and lover, The Country Teacher delves into prickly territory without being so glib as to pass judgment or offer solutions, rather exploring human loneliness and forgiveness without a political agenda or self-conscious posturing. In fact, sexual predilection is the least of the film's concerns, as a successful young teacher (Pavel Liska) leaves the security of a prep school job in Prague for a less esteemed position in the country. Knowing the move from urban to rural is typically a signifier of escape, the isolated Marie (Zuzana Bydzovska) finds intrigue in the new teacher, confused by his lack of reciprocal affection but pleased with his positive influence on her misguided 17-year-old son's (Ladislav Sedivy) life. This initial bond, however, is put to the test when the teacher's ex-boyfriend (Marek Daniel) comes to town, expressing an interest in Marie's teenaged son, Lada. It is perhaps these latter adult handlings of Marie's Lada, along with the public use of recreational drugs and a latter sketchy sexual indiscretion, that distinguish The Country Teacher culturally and ideologically from Western cinema. But a mature handling of universal anxieties, such as sagacity in external perspective and distrust as learned behaviour for outsiders, unifies the film, giving it a power and profundity rarely demonstrated. Too often, narratives handle difference as a threat and dismissible comic idiosyncrasy without consideration. Not here though, as this one is a low-key winner that handles its virtues with subtlety and sincerity. Also included with the DVD is the touching short film Peter and Ben, directed by Pinny Grylls, wherein a man deliberately isolates himself from society, done with its callous hypocrisy, only to befriend a sheep that has willingly strayed from its herd, despite his attempts to push it away. It speaks volumes within its ten-minute running time about the meaning of connection, no matter how simple, in a world that couldn't give less of a shit. (Film Movement)