KSL Movie Show review: ‘The Teachers’ Lounge’ shows off great storytelling
Feb 8, 2024, 2:00 PM
SALT LAKE CITY — Another title for this film could have been, “So You Want to Be a Teacher?” Why? You’ll see.
Set in a modern-day high school in Hamburg, Germany, a young teacher of math and physical education, Carla Nowak (Leonie Benesch) is an upbeat, caring instructor who has a strength of character and high ideals about education.
You can tell she is well-liked as her students and other faculty members pay attention when she has something to say. But she normally, quietly goes about her business educating the minds of these young people.
However, the reoccurrence of a number of thefts in the school, has the principal and others concerned, to the point where they confront class officers to find out if anyone has noticed anyone acting peculiar in their home room. The kids are obviously uncomfortable “ratting” out their classmates and Ms. Nowak is not happy about this heavy-handed method of interrogation, especially without obtaining parental approval.
A student in question is called into the office, along with his Turkish parents and grilled about the incidents. It doesn’t help that the young man is carrying a large sum of money in his pocket.
The upset parents explain that their son was going to purchase a computer gift for a friend after school and insist their son would never do such a thing to bring dishonor to their family. The parents immediately think it must be because they are Muslim. It’s an awkward, troubling meeting, but all are reassured that the young man is innocent.
A realization in the school’s teachers’ lounge
Angered by this event, Ms. Nowak decides to take matters into her own hands. She places the money in her coat pocket, leaves the coat on a chair in the teacher’s lounge where most of the thefts have taken place, turns on her laptop camera and leaves the room.
Sure enough, she returns to discover the money is gone.
But the video only reveals the sleeve of the perpetrator. However, it’s not the sleeve of a student, but of a secretary in the administration office. A secretary whose son, Oskar (Leonard Stettnisch) is a member of Ms. Nowak’s class.
This is just the beginning of a series of denials, violations of privacy, incriminations and threats. Threats directed at Ms. Nowak who was only trying to protect her students, but has it all thrown back in her face.
I mean, it becomes a real drama.
Yes, I know it’s just a story set in a high school. But the writing, the acting and the subsequent, intense conversations are good reasons why this movie was selected to represent Germany in the Best International Feature Film category for this year’s Academy Awards.
This proves once again that great storytelling can elevate the simplest of tales if done right. “The Teacher’s Lounge” is certainly done very, very well.
THE TEACHER’S LOUNGE (A-) Rated PG-13 for some strong language. Starring Leonie Benesch, Leonard Stettnisch, Anne-Kathrin Gummich and Eva Löbau. Co-written and directed by Ilker Çatak (“I Was, I Am, I Will Be” “Fidelity”) – filmed in Hamburg, Germany. Playing at Jordan Commons and Broadway Centre. Running time: 98 minutes.