Friday, September 10, 2010

Half Nelson (2006): review- 2/10; Misery porn

The film portrays the relationship between a school history teacher with a drug problem and a pupil at the black school where he works.

The self destructive teacher, who regards himself as a great philospher, is generally unlikable; his charges are not especially interesting either. There isn't much of a plot.

Moreover, everyone dresses badly and speaks a debased form of English. The teacher's apartment and lifestyle are squalid. We aren't offered any explanation for this, so it's hard to forgive.

The film is pretentious, and aims at profundity by intersplicing images of footage from the Civil Rights movement, but really it is nothing more than "misery porn".

"Misery porn" is largely a wickedness of the British, who took great delight in filming scenes of proletarian nastiness in their Kitchen Sink dramas of the 50s and 60s. More recently, Mike Leigh has attempted, dismally, to add a comic twist to these; Ken Loach has added extra "authenticity" by filming ordinary people in roles instead of trained actors.

Recently, Americans have managed to master the genre, most entertainingly in Precious (2009) in which an mountainous black girl steals chicken McNuggets and is raped by her father. She turns out to have a sepcial gift for Maths: highly reccomended.

No comments:

Post a Comment