What must the pressure be like for a first-time filmmaker with an uncle and a father that are both world-class filmmakers? For Jordan Scott, daughter of Ridley and niece to Tony, it must be pretty damn awesome, especially when your debut feature film is as surprisingly well crafted as CRACKS.
Jordan Scott directed and co-wrote CRACKS with Ben Court and Caroline Ip, based on the novel by Sheila Kohler. What begins innocently enough as a drama about the lives of a group of girls at a British boarding school, this calm pot of water gradually simmers, slowly disrupting the surface, developing tension from an unexpected twist in the characters’ lives.
Eva Green (CASINO ROYALE, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN) plays Miss G, a relatively young and uncommonly attractive teacher and mentor at the boarding school, whom the girls look up to and admire. Astonished by her stories of travel and experience, Miss G can do no wrong in the girls’ eyes.
Once Fiamma (Maria Valverde) arrives, preceded by word of her aristocratic Spanish pedigree, she is met immediately with disdain from the girls, but Miss G takes an immediate and unequaled affection to her, hardening the already apparent rift between Fiamma and her British schoolmates.
Referred often as “the team” for their athletic group study, the schoolgirls central to the story are led by their captain Di, played wonderfully by Juno Temple (KABOOM, ATONEMENT). Her distaste for Fiamma is contradicted by the subtle sense of moral uncertainty she struggles with, perhaps instinctively predicting the darker future before them.
Eva Green is marvelous as Miss G, a charming and playfully youthful mentor whose wisdom decays, little by little, as her true intentions for Fiamma take over. CRACKS is part LORD OF THE FLIES as Di and the team are free-spirited, only wearing their masks of purity and innocence in the presence of their school elders; but CRACKS is also one part MISERY, coupled with FATAL ATTRACTION, a story that becomes slightly taboo.
Poppy, Lily, Laurel, Rosie and Fuzzy make up the remainder of Di’s team, a group of girls diverse in appearance, age and personality. CRACKS rarely dwells for long on the less interesting elder authorities of the boarding school. CRACKS is not the girls’ story, but rather the story of Miss G’s undoing, the revealing of her true nature, providing for a compelling and dramatic mystery.
CRACKS is a pleasant feast for the eyes and ears, shot with a sort of drab elegance, beautiful but understated colors combined with superbly executed visual storytelling. She has clearly learned a thing or two about the camera as an artist’s brush and the importance of strong, meaningful editing from her father.
Those who appreciate orchestral excellence could close their eyes, not to open them until the closing credits, experiencing only the sublime symphonic sound of Javier Navarrete’s score and not feel they wasted their ticket price. CRACKS benefits from a near wall-to-wall carpeting of finely woven piano and strings.
CRACKS is 104 minutes in length, executive produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, and suggests a sensibility and potential akin to filmmaker Jane Campion. The pace, while comfortable, may be a tad slow for some audiences, but do not mistake this for a chick-lit film.