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Charlotte Rampling meets Miss Brodie

27 October 2009
Published in Attualità, Culture, Opinioni
by Giovanni Biglino

cracks01_rgbJordan Scott, viagra daughter of Ridley (Blade runner, remedy Thelma & Louise, sildenafil Gladiator), has presented her confident debut movie Cracks during the course of the 53rd London Film Festival, accompanied by her father and her cast, including the stunning Eva Green. The story is set in 1930s England in an isolated all-girls boarding school. In the austere institution (the church hymns, the dark uniforms, the severe bare landscape) an unconventional teacher, Miss G (a superb Eva Green), brings a touch of glamour and emancipation. Her team of girls is faithful and adoring, until the arrival on a new student, the aristocratic Spaniard Fiamma (Maria Valverde), and the balance is irremediably flawed. 

The story is based on the 1999 novel by Sheila Kohler, but it also brings to memory the unforgettable Miss Jean Brodie and her temperament, as described by Muriel Spark in her early successful novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961). The central theme is not only the complex dynamics occurring in a group of adolescents (both novels addressing a “team” of young girls) but also how each member of the group interacts with the charismatic role-model, the teacher that nobody will ever forget. Not a teacher, but the teacher, in a wider meaning of the term: a source of inspiration. Some details of Miss Brodie are memorable: taking the liberty of discussing Fascism and Cimabue instead of mathematics during class, reproaching a girl for opening a window more than fifteen centimetres because it is “vulgar”, her ambition of transforming her team of girls into “la crème de la crème”. The impact of such an alluring character on the mind of an adolescent sparks strong reactions. Imitation, jealousy, eroticism. Obsession.

In the film, Miss G is a stain of colour in the gray rigorous atmosphere of the school and its surroundings. Dressed with great taste, a cigarette often between the red lips, assured in her attitude, compelling when recounting stories set against exotic backgrounds, she is almost magnetic. Her special group of girls, the diving team, feels privileged and intimidated, each girl responding differently to such a strong personality, with attraction easily disguised as admiration. Miss G possesses an allure of mystery, which of course adds to her erotic charge. She passionately tries to inspire her girls, challenging them, instructing them against social obligations, telling them that “the most important thing in life is desire”. The movie then takes a darker turn, with Miss G revealing another side, under the armour of emancipated and glamorous young woman. The character thus gains more complexity, ultimately possessing an explosive mix of fragility, illusions, ambitions and sensuality.

eva-green-charlotte-ramplingIn the role of Miss G, Eva Green delivers an accomplished performance. Known to the greater public as the Bond girl of Casino royale, she was the unforgettable Isabelle in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The dreamers. Daughter of French actress Marlène Jobert and a theatre actress, she also has previously worked with Ridley Scott, producer of Cracks, for the movie Kingdom of heaven. In her latest role, she incarnates with confidence the charismatic Miss G, shifting between her passionate side and her dark side. Beautiful and stylish, she flaunts elegant 1930s outfits in the improbable setting of the boarding school, playing the gramophone on the shore of the sea while encouraging the diving team to aim higher. Her most striking feature are probably the piercing blue eyes and her gaze, so rich in emotions, is reminiscent of Charlotte Rampling’s. As some of Rampling’s most popular interpretations, this character is oscillating between fragility and an almost arrogant, fascinating confidence, not intentionally provocative but naturally sensual. All this summarised in the complex gaze. While presenting the movie at the Toronto International Film Festival, Eva Green said that she also found inspiration for her character by listening to songs performed by Marlene Dietrich, adding the final touch to her interpretation.  

The movie, directed with talent by Jordan Scott and with beautiful photography curated by John Mathieson, will be released in the UK in December 2009.

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