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74% Liked It
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Adrien Brody, Marcia Gay Harden, James Caan, Lucy Liu, Christina Hendricks

In Director Tony Kaye's Detachment, Adrien Brody stars as Henry Barthes, an educator with a true talent to connect with his students. Yet Henry has chosen to bury his gift. By spending his days as a s... read more read more...ubstitute teacher, he conveniently avoids any emotional connections by never staying anywhere long enough to form an attachment to either students or colleagues. When a new assignment places him at a public school where a frustrated, burned-out administration has created an apathetic student body, Henry soon becomes a role model to the disaffected youth. In finding an unlikely emotional connection to the students, teachers, and a runaway teen he takes in from the streets, Henry realizes that he's not alone in his life and death struggle to find beauty in a seemingly vicious and loveless world. -- (C) Tribeca Film

Id: 11161633

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Recent Reviews

  • August 27, 2014
    An over-baked mess of good ideas. If the idea was to make a statement on the American educational system then it should have focused on that instead of all the other distracting sub-plots. It all seemed a bit cliched, like a mix of scenes and characters (and cinematic styles - no... read moren of which Kaye can call his own) from other films. In my opinion Tony Kaye fails to get the message across (again) because he totally lacks focus. I really wanted to like it, there is a good film in there somewhere, it's just confused and contrived beyond recognition. Brody and Caan's performances are the high points and I loved seeing Louis Zorich again.
  • April 4, 2014
    A dark chronicling of the sad state of the American Public School System, through the eyes of a long-term substitute teacher (Adrien Brody), wrestling his own demons whilst trying to make a difference both professionally and personally during his latest assignment.

    Tony Kaye's "... read moreDetachment" is not the lecture I was expecting. It's an almost spiritual study of a system; a broken one, flawed (and as suggested) not inherently but by larger societal problems too broad and numerous to fully grasp or understand. It assesses these issues not with hope but with pitch black honesty. No solutions given but the disturbing thought that some things will never change. Kaye uses the phenomenal performance of Adrian Brody to ground us in the drama. We think at first this will be one man's story, but the narrative's concerns are much broader. This reminded me of "American History X," a masterpiece, also directed by Kaye. It showcases a career best performance (Ed Norton in that movie) in a character piece that isn't so much about a personal journey as it is a grand statement about a specific social problem that will continue to thrive with no end in sight. In "Detachment," Kaye's technique is equally experimental, in a story that's even less streamlined. Brody is definitely the star of the movie, but is not necessarily the focus. We are violently thrust into the lives of a myriad characters; unexpectedly and frantically at times. It could be argued that "Detachment" lacks focus to a fault, but I didn't feel this. Kaye's creation works as collage, similar to but not as extreme as Terrence Malick's take on WWII in "The Thin Red Line." As with "American History X," Kaye's stance is obvious and moment to moment scenes are a bit preachy, but none of this detracts from the established tone and eventual takeaway of this socially conscience, effortlessly powerful movie. The film's cold, apocalyptic final shots aptly conclude a bleak portrait. One that's relentlessly grim, sure, but a bold work of cinema that leaves a lot to ponder.
  • June 24, 2013
    I found this film depressing, and overall just empty. It is non-stop gloom and doom, and it seems each person is having major issues: from the students, to the faculty, to any other supporting cast members. The issues are never resolved, they just seem to linger throughout. After... read more it was all over, I just felt unsatisfied, and unmoved by it all....
  • May 29, 2013
    Having been a big fan of "American History X" in 1998, I was eager to see what else director Tony Kaye had in store. Unfortunately, he didn't make that many films and those that he did - "Lobby Lobster" and "Black Water Transit" - didn't quite reach a bigger audience. As a result... read more, I was happy to come across "Detachment" which proves that Kaye hasn't lost any of his style or starkness.
    Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody) is a substitute teacher brought in to a struggling urban high school to teach English and work with kids who are performing at a very low grade. Being a substitute is exactly the way Henry likes it as he deliberately tries to avoid making genuine connections with people (and that includes his pupils). As time goes on, though, Mr. Barthes realises his pupils' needs for his input which forces him to confront his own demons and isolation.

    "And never have I felt so deeply at one and the same time so detached from myself and so present in the world."
    As the film opens, this is the quote from French philosopher Albert Camus, that's scribed onto a blackboard before we are introduced to the protagonist and the personal conflict he finds himself in. On the one hand, he's a caring individual but on the other, he deliberately keeps a distance from people as he's consumed by a guilt that doesn't belong to him. His detachment is also reflected in the frustrated and disillusioned pupils he teaches, making this a melting pot of emotionally dysfunctional people. It's this very mirroring in the individuals that make this quite a thought provoking character study, as well as a diatribe on the state of the American educational system and the problems therein.
    Kaye shoots the film with an edgy, fly on the wall approach, utilising the shaky-cam technique and numerous close-ups that bring you closer to the characters and their inner turmoil. There's also the assembly of a very impressive cast, all-be-it, a lot of them are wasted in thankless, underwritten roles. The likes of Bryan Cranston, Blythe Danner and William Petersen needn't have turned up at all, but James Caan lightens the mood whenever he's onscreen and the young unknowns get a chance to shine instead; particularly (the director's daughter) Betty Kaye, who develops a crush on her teacher and Sami Gayle as a young prostitute who develops a similar infatuation. The real star, though, is a brooding and commanding Brody. He's rarely offscreen for the entirety of the film and even though it's no surprise that he delivers his usual reliability, he's especially good with a very powerful and charismatic performance. However, the cast and the impressive handling of the material can't save the film from being overly depressing, or when drawing to it's conclusion, descending into melodrama from which it never fully recovers.
    Cut from the same cloth as the, Oscar nominated, Ryan Gosling movie "Half Nelson", director Tony Kaye delivers a good insight into the difficulties of teaching and the importance of instilling a good childhood and sense of self in our youth.

    Mark Walker
  • February 10, 2013
    Adrien Brody doesn't really do it for me. That tormented look, which suited this movie perfectly, gets old after a while. And Lucy Liu? What a bore.. Her outburst in the movie is laughable, she should stick to bad ass Asian bitches. Marcia Gay on the other hand never fails to mak... read moree an impression.

    About the movie? I'm not really sure what the message is here. That life sucks and even the smallest effort to reach out to each other will bite you in the ass? Nice.
  • September 11, 2012
    An intense, in-depth, heart-wrenching, and chracter driven piece into the world of teachers who have almost literally given up trying to make a difference and the students who affect them and who they also effect. Director, Tony Kaye crafts a superb, dark, realitic and altogether... read more brilliant movie that hits you hard, shakes you, moves you and holds you spellbound from start to its thrilling finish. An incrediable and truly unforgettable movie. An explosive and tour de force experiance. A fully-realized, compelling and magnificent movie that delves deep into its story and it`s characters. It has such an amazing all-star cast that all deliver brilliant performances, there is not a bad performance in this film and they all have impact no matter how small the part. Adrian Brody gives a powerhouse performance, it`s possiably his best work since The Pianst. Brody is electrifying. James Caan is brilliant. Lucy Liu is powerful. Marcia Gay Harden is riveting.
  • July 5, 2012
    A Glimpse into the Reality of Life

    Great Film! Adrien Brody projects the right emotions at the right time in the movie. Sadness, happiness, joy and trauma, every feeling has its place in this movie. The use of real students and an existing school in combination with great filmin... read moreg gives the viewer the feeling its all real. A quality that makes a movie great.The beauty of this movie comes within the subtext, whether you can directly relate with the characters or not, the movie takes the message and widens its range so everyone is able to understand the actual meaning of the film. Let's clear things out, this film is not about a school or the basis of education, this is about trying our best not to give a damn about others as most of us just go around doing everything in our power to be happy ourselves with a lousy job, a loveless marriage, a constant sense of abandonment or basically a crappy life. Its pretty tough stuff seeing kids void of hope, interest or enthusiasm and teachers trying to get to the few who are still to be reached in the classroom. But its here where it all falls apart because of hollow politics, parents that do not care or are just as dysfunctional as the kids they raised and dropped into the public education system and idiotic social rules and conventions we are all used to. When you see the pattern in all the peoples private lives and their desperate tries of holding on its obvious that "Detachment" is not just about the public school system but about our whole society, about each and every one of us.

    The movie inspired me. I'm a elementary school teacher and I see a lot of kids, sometimes heading in the wrong direction. It gave me a feeling of hope and drive to help these children, even if it seems hopeless. Go see it!

    Detachment is a chronicle of three weeks in the lives of several high school teachers, administrators and students through the eyes of a substitute teacher named Henry Barthes. Henry roams from school to school, imparting modes of knowledge, but never staying long enough to form any semblance of sentient attachment. A perfect profession for one seeking to hide out in the open. One day Henry arrives at his next assignment. Upon his entry into this particular school, a secret world of emotion is awakened within him by three women. A girl named Meredith in his first period. A fellow teacher Ms. Madison, and a street hooker named Erica, whom Henry has personally granted brief shelter from the streets. Each one of these women, like Henry, are in a life and death struggle to find beauty in a seemingly vicious and loveless world.
  • March 19, 2012
    Tony Kaye's 'Detachment' may not offer any answers to its cry for help, but its intriguing filmmaking that grips you from the beginning and ceases to let go. Adrien Brody's powerful performance is taut and sometimes explosive, and he proves to be more than a great anchor for the ... read morestory's tone and message. Kaye does a good job of gifting the audience with a sense of pathos for his film's characters, especially Brody. The material is not always easy to swallow, but Kaye and Brody have made a film that has something to say, and that message seems very important.
  • March 6, 2012
    What could have been an honest drama feels more like an overly extreme view on the American educational system. Kaye also insists on an over-stylish direction that seems incompatible with the intended realistic approach. Besides, the story becomes a melodrama in the final act.
  • March 5, 2012

    This movie serves to remind all of us that good indie movies still exist

    Detachment, is one of the best movies I have seen this year. Its complexity, and entirety remains truthful to the indie genre. It's experimental style, and depressing tone a... read morere not only touching but intriguing.

    Henry Barthes (Brody) is a substitute teacher that drifts from classroom to classroom facing the problems of the children, and the problems of the teachers, when his own world is full of problems.

    This is one of the most depressing films I have ever seen. However, it is done beautifuly through the eyes of Tony Kaye, just like American History X. His unique filmmaking style of experimenting with cameras and characters are truly remarkable.

    Detachment is a movie that has much to offer: a perplexing story, a unique and original indie film, and wonderful performances.

    In his unique style, Kaye uses this film to show the troubles and difficulties of our lifes, and the lifes of teachers and students, and how we are so detached from one another. He serves his purpose by using a experimental form of filmmaking where he uses a super 8 type of retro camera, a sketchy editing style, that reminds us how puzzling our lives are, and finally the decadency in the characters.

    This is a very pessimistic film, it is sad from beggining to start, and it is not here to make you feel good, it is a movie that serves the purpose to remind us that our society is killing and education is killing us by preventing us to be have compasion for one another.

    The acting in this movie is great. Brody shows us why he won an oscar in this movie. This to me is his most powerful performance, more than his great debut in The Pianist.

    Personally I have much to say about this film, but can't put it in words. I am fanatic for both educational films, and indie films, hence I love this movie very much. Although it is highly depressing this movie leads us into great and deep thinking, and movies are supposed to do that, not only entertain. This movie is brilliant for its experimental style, of a fictional documentary.

    Henry Barthes: "A faceless man in a classroom, is that how you see me?"

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