A novice teacher, Steve (Hart), arrives at a special-needs school just in time to see one of his charges hurtling along a high-wire and dive bombing kamikaze-style some poor teacher's 2CV. Such 'spirited' behaviour turns out to be par for the course at a school, where survival depends on a certain amount of laissez-faire. Steve's thankless attempts to instill a sense of poetry in the kids look doomed, but when he challenges charismatic ne'er-do-well Conrad (Conroy) to a cross-country run he captures the imagination of the school. The film takes 'difficult' raw material and puts it to the service of middlebrow feelgood entertainment. It mostly soft-pedals the trauma of emotional violence and plays the physical variety for (admittedly black) comedy. Hart is a tremendously vigorous, alert screen presence, and Conroy's bruised sensitivity is equally expressive. Prettily photographed and handled with considerable assurance, the film runs up a head of steam, but not much more.
Cast and crew
Ian Hart Catherine Russell Joseph Gordon-Levitt John Alderton Ruaidhri Conroy Claire Skinner Art Malik James Bolam