Directed By: Tony Kaye

Starring: Adrien Brody, James Caan, Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu, Marcia Gay Harden, Tim Blake Nelson, Bryan Cranston, Sami Gayle, and William Petersen

Teaching is a tough vocation, particularly in public schools.  Aside from being underpaid and overstressed in a thankless job, teachers have to deal with the most dangerous force on Earth, ignorance.  They have to deal with ignorant parents who don't equip their kids with the tools or the mindset to thrive in the classroom.  They have to deal with ignorant students who have no desire to challenge themselves or to do anything worthwhile with their lives.  They have to deal with an ignorant country that continuously kicks the can down the road on a host of issues of issues that plague classrooms around the nation.  While these issues are not applicable to every teacher in every classroom in America, these conditions pose immense problems for the nation's education system as a whole.  These problems are large enough to merit a film like Tony Kaye's Detachment.

Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody) is a substitute teacher. He moves from school to school within the school district taking short-term teaching positions so that students can see one long-term substitute as opposed to 20.  The film chronicles several weeks in Henry's life during which he teaches at one of the most downtrodden schools in the district.  In his daily life in the classroom, he must deal with uncouth, unruly students and worn-down, detached faculty members.  When school is not in session, Henry spends a good chunk of his time visiting his ailing grandfather (Louis Zurich).  He also takes a wayward young prostitute named Erica (Sami Gayle) into his home and offers her shelter.

Detachment is an enlightening film driven by strong, raw acting from its cast and brutally honest filmmaking from Tony Kaye.  Adrien Brody and the cast deliver restrained yet moving performances as struggling teachers.  At war inside and outside the classroom, their characters illustrate how teachers cope with the never-ending stress that's not written in the job description.  Brody is at his best as the tortured and conflicted Henry Barthes.  He definitely brings his A-game to the set for Detachment.  Veteran actors Blythe Danner and James Caan give particularly noteworthy performances as the passionate Ms. Perkins and the charismatic Mr. Seaboldt.

Tony Kaye also makes some interesting decisions from the director's chair.  He makes the film brutally honest in its depiction of the American educational system.  With every foul-mouthed, ill-equipped student, every tired, hopeless teacher, and every outrageously insensitive outsider, Kaye illustrates everything that's wrong with schools in the US.  In some way, every single character is detached from the harsh truth that plenty of children are being left behind in America today.

Detachment is a film underscored by a concept it embraces in the classroom, doublethink.  Director Tony Kaye paints a grim, hopeless picture of the educational system.  When Dr. Parker (Lucy Liu), the guidance counselor, begins to have a mental breakdown and when Principal Dearden (Marcia Gay Harden) curls up on her office floor in despair, you would think that the schools and their students are lost causes.  At the same time, Kaye gives us inklings of hope.  When Henry takes in Erica and when the outraged Ms. Perkins delivers a fiery speech to testing executives about the true value of her students, there are  glimmers of hope that make you think that teachers can still make a difference in their students' lives and that this generation of students can be rescued.  With all of this in mind, Detachment is ultimately sobering but simultaneously uplifting.

Detachment gets a 0.03% rating.  The film is definitely powerful and moving.  With strong performances from the cast and brutally honest filmmaking from Tony Kaye, the movie does rip the band-aid off and show the tremendously unfair plight of our teachers.  However, it gets a little too heavy at times for my taste.  For that, I needed a few wine coolers.