Filmmakers do love stories set in English boarding schools, with their crisp uniforms, class hierarchies and professors perfect for nostalgically romanticizing. Yet the stiff-upper-lip setting is also malleable enough to underwrite subversive student shenanigans (If..., the St. Trinian's movies), sexual tension (Another Country) or coming-of-age pathos (every other entry)---and if you're Jordan Scott's posh period drama, you'll go for all three. Set in the early 1930s, Cracks centers on Di (Temple), a student who runs one of an all-girls academy's house teams. The real leader of this pack, however, is Ms. G (Green), the resident swimming instructor; she's the type of teacher who gives her students risqu novels to read and takes them out for midnight dips. Top that, Mr. Chips! Then an exotic Spanish pupil (Valverde) joins their motley dorm crew. Suddenly, the group's dynamic is skewed---and Ms. G takes a strangely intense interest in her latest ward.
Yes, sapphic pasts will rear their ugly heads, drunken hazing parties will go south, and innocence will indeed be lost. No matter how gamely Green plays her aristocratic Bright Young Person gone to seed, director Jordan Scott never bothers to construct much of a film around her performance. Whether it's because Scott is too busy indulging in a genetic love of streaming light (blame her dad, Ridley) or choreographing an inexplicable homage to Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia is anyone's guess. What is certain is that Cracks simply doesn't make the grade.
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