“Detachment” is an honest and depressing look at the state of public education, the mislead prioritizing of standardized test scores, and the frailty of human life. It is an odd film, erratic at times and raw in its portrayal of communities with a low socioeconomic status. The documentary feel enhances the realism of the story. You don’t feel as if you are watching characters - you feel as if you are watching real kids with real problems. Unfortunately, this style requires the film to move slowly and without much action, so it does turn into a very long 100 minutes. The story centers around Adrien Brody, who plays a substitute teacher that reaches out to these kids on a level that they can understand. Unlike “Stand and Deliver” or “Lean on Me,” Brody has his own circumstances that stand in the way of his success. Pieces of this film are predictable because the story so accurately portrays the daily encounters of teachers in their classrooms. The highlight of the film is Lucy Liu as she shows the frustration with misled students that teachers cannot ever reveal. I was also quite taken with Sami Gayle, who acted beyond her years in this role. “Detachment” moves at a snail’s pace and will likely ruin your night, but any person involved in public education will be able to relate to these characters on a deep level.
[Pictured: The chemistry between Brody and Gayle goes a long way in this film]