Detachment Reviews

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½ September 16, 2015
Tony Kaye is a really talented filmmaker -- you can even see that here. But this is a film so bogged down in cliches, bloated melodrama, and nauseating misery that it baffles me how I could still feel even slightly affectionate. Its sort of a testament to Kaye's talent that a movie this unbelievably bad isn't all that bad. (Does that make sense?)
½ August 24, 2015
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August 6, 2015
This is a a deep rumination and acute observations of what ills us in life. The setup is an urban school in its daily business of managing order in classrooms. The viewpoints are multiple and largely unharmonized, yet they all offer a vision of pain and suffering. The particulars differ, yet the sense of individual isolation in a chaotic and uncaring universe is unified through the elegiac tone of the movie. The sense of existential despair is responded by the stoic Mr. Barthes who endures and carries on his duty to be a good teacher and a decent human being. Yet his Kantian Imperatives is honed by deep schism in psyche and memory. He reminds me of Detective Cole in True Detective Season 1. Somber and suffering souls bear witness of life honorably, dutifully, yet without false hope.

The one critical scene we see Barthes read among the detritus and chaos around him. The order of the universe lies in his life of mind instead of the sensory life itself. Embodied in moral imperatives, Mr. Barthes is the essential stoic's "ataraxia", a serene calmness against all the odds yet not detached from the love of life itself.

What marks this movie from any other happier-ending ones is the absolute confidence in the present: The danger lies in the joyful tears of Erica rushing toward him. One fears more pain than joy in the universe however the beautiful sunset in the shaded grove looked at that moment of embrace.
June 29, 2015
There's a decent film in here somewhere, but it's undone by the messy execution and scattershot storytelling.
June 18, 2015
"Detachment" is an honest and depressing look at the state of public education, the mislead prioritizing of standardized test scores, and the frailty of human life. It is an odd film, erratic at times and raw in its portrayal of communities with a low socioeconomic status. The documentary feel enhances the realism of the story. You don't feel as if you are watching characters - you feel as if you are watching real kids with real problems. Unfortunately, this style requires the film to move slowly and without much action, so it does turn into a very long 100 minutes. The story centers around Adrien Brody, who plays a substitute teacher that reaches out to these kids on a level that they can understand. Unlike "Stand and Deliver" or "Lean on Me," Brody has his own circumstances that stand in the way of his success. Pieces of this film are predictable because the story so accurately portrays the daily encounters of teachers in their classrooms. The highlight of the film is Lucy Liu as she shows the frustration with misled students that teachers cannot ever reveal. I was also quite taken with Sami Gayle, who acted beyond her years in this role. "Detachment" moves at a snail's pace and will likely ruin your night, but any person involved in public education will be able to relate to these characters on a deep level.
June 11, 2015
Excellent performance by Adrie Brody brings to light the crumbling values of society and how it permeates children, families and the educational system. It fails though to give the audience any type of hope for a brighter future.
½ May 28, 2015
A movie of up close human emotions
May 23, 2015
Critics contend, quote: "Detachment's heart is in the right place, but overall it doesn't offer any solutions to its passionate ranting." Duh and then some. That IS the point you idiotic experts! The movie makes the horrible point that there IS NOT solutions to its passionate ranting! Light-bulb moment!!
½ April 20, 2015
Brody is a fine actor, but this film comes across as pretentious and self-important. Almost to the extent that it unwittingly reaches into the realm of black comedy. Almost. At several points in the film I even asked aloud, "Are you serious?" Because I couldn't quite decide if it were serious.

First, in a genius stroke of irony, we get to hear Adrien Brody lecture to a class of kids about how there are more important things in life than looks. Next our hero instantly connects with and rights a few hardened inner-city school kids. Then, and I'm not joking about this, the flawed hero swoops in an rescues a young prostitute from the streets.

This film is about a mile wide and about a millimeter thick. My eyes were literally tired from all the eye rolling. I added a star, however, for superb acting and a great cast, but that's the best I can do.
April 17, 2015
Adrian Brodys finest movie. Although, harshly trounced by the critics this is marvel of acting. An emotional albeit dismal look at the American school system is a must see.
April 8, 2015
Unoriginal, predictable, melodramatic yet dull.

Detachment doesn't tackle a new subject. Delinquent kids and teachers'
inability to teach or control them has been a theme since the 1950s
(Blackboard Jungle anyone?). However, with each of these sorts of
movies you hope that there is something new to be added. If there are
movies that add to the discussion, Detachment isn't one of them.

Rather than try to present solutions, it just shows the problems. You
would think Adrien Brody's character represents the solution but his
character is too implausible to be true: idealistic and overly
goody-two-shoesy. Plus, is he really the solution? (Any more and
there'd be spoilers). If anything, the movie is telling us: don't be a
teacher and, more broadly, don't have kids.

The plot is quite predictable. Some events are signposted far in

The plot isn't hard to figure out in advance, especially as you have so
much time to work it out, the movie progresses so slowly.

Sure, there's heaps of melodrama, people throwing things, kids being
all aggro, ridiculous dialogue and sub-plots, but it's fairly empty.

Lots of pretense and bluster, but no substance.
April 5, 2015
This film had so much potential. I think this is one of Adrien Brody's most outstanding performances - it's just a shame that direction was sub-par and the plot was messy.

I think the screenplay alone is quite beautiful, but the gloomy overpowering tone prevents it from fully spreading it's wings. There was a bit too much unnecessary profanity for my taste and some of the dialogue sounded altogether unnatural.

I don't want to completely put down this movie. I actually enjoyed it and it does pull on the heartstrings. Under another more proficient director, this could've been a four-star movie.
½ April 5, 2015
Detachment is impeccably filmed, well acted, and really depressing. Pretty much as expected from the guy who directed American History X.
April 1, 2015
It hurts to be a teacher. This movie shows it.
March 31, 2015
Detachment is powerful but too depressing overall and melodramatic towards the end. They've shown the bitter reality and the message is somewhat right but that perfect execution in the script was missing. Great performance by Adrien Brody though.
½ February 28, 2015
Artistic. Touching. Realistic. Sad. Detachment has it all to succeed...
½ February 28, 2015
Tony Kaye's Detachment is like his feature film debut American History X in its bleak depiction of America's youth, trapped within the bureaucracy of public education, an institution that which they lack an understanding of, causing them to lash out in acts of cruelty and malice systemic of the failures of government sanctioned institutionalization, knowledge and empathy replaced by ignorance and competition. Indicative of Kaye's characteristic dissatisfaction for the culturally degenerative firmament of America in the twenty-first century, Detachment examines the failures of public education in America, depicting the role of the teacher as more warden and jailor than educator and counselor, Kaye's chosen subjects down trodden civil servants held back by the anger of their students and the economic strictures of the nation's poorest and most racially volatile residential districts. In Adrian Brody's Henry Barthes, the viewer is afforded a veritable reincarnation of Kaye's previous protagonist, Edward Norton's Neo-Nazi turned social activist Derek Vinyard, Barthes' internalized rage quelled by a poetic soul, erupting in fits of isolated panic when provoked by the very worst of society's machinations of arbitrary law and order. Like American History X, Detachment is nearly suffocating in its dark dramatic tone, the dour halls of Kaye's public high school lending an impenetrability to the characters within, the torch of enlightenment unattended, leaving a whole generation of children scrabbling in the dark, capitalistic antagonism affording only the meager light of a single lit match. Where Kaye's feature film debut found him investigating racial prejudice and violence in Southern California at the dawn of the twenty-first century, his fourth film finds him interrogating the survivors of his prior social apocalypse, his public educators tied down by the ego of discontentment engendered by the detachment of racism that has continued to course through the American subconscious in the proceeding ten years.

As a successor to what is possibly the greatest social drama of our time, Detachment is comparatively engaged in a discussion largely pre-determined, Kaye's rhetorical flourishes on the importance of an ever diminishing liberal education heavy handed, but restrained by the subtleties afforded in Carl Lund's script and through the deft performances of its exceptional cast. If Kaye is a director's director, than his oeuvre is perhaps most marked by its unrelenting authorial style, Kaye's films less about interpretation than they are about elicited reaction, his films provocative in their engagement with topics already laden with a socially pre-conditioned response. And Detachment is no exception, decidedly brutal and effectively moving, Kaye's dissatisfaction echoing our own resentment towards an ingrained cultural disengagement, America in the twenty-first century remarkably insincere and prone to satire, but without the knowledge of where that insincerity and ridicule stems from, causing further division and turmoil within the culture. While some might find Kaye's stubborn cynicism exhausting, and American History X is nothing if not unmistakably critical, Detachment possesses an empathy for its characters that proves optimistic, even if the battles waged don't always culminate in success. While the film's conclusion leaves its characters in much the same quandary in which it finds them, Kaye's direction imbues a familiarity with his characters that proves empathetic and diagnostic of the lack of concern in public education in America at large, the solution dependent on our response to the film's comprehensively informed satire.

In Henry Barthes, Kaye has seemingly distilled the spirit of Derek Vinyard to his bare essentials, the anger of an upbringing found lacking in proper emotional support and economic stability fostering an adult lacking in social stability, the torments of his past informing his impersonally detached nature in the present. While Henry undoubtedly cares deeply for his fellow teachers and students, his status as a substitute teacher enables him to leave before becoming too emotionally attached to any one school district, classroom, or location, constant motion and change negating the effects of what is a meager and hard earned existence. Like his students, Henry feels the undercurrents of oppression surging forth as anger, a socially propagated affliction of a culture in a state of arrested development engendered by the very lack of education that Henry is actively engaged in instilling into a stagnant national intellect. When Henry says that he understands that his students are angry, or when he takes in a young prostitute off the street out of sheer charity, his own intelligence is temporarily lent to an American youth emotionally and mentally abandoned, the public schools little more than police states, the children put under their care abused, neglected, and ignored. In Kaye's film, all of his characters are dissimilarly detached, their very inability to connect with one another ironically communal, if only they could reach out and see each other in order to transcend the culturally regressive traits that have kept them deaf, dumb, and blind.

Perhaps the most pervasive aspect of Detachment comes in its ability to articulate the incoherence of teenage angst as a symptom of an ephemeral maturity, proffered as a possibility, but with no clear social avenues by which to reach it. If Henry Barthes serves as any indication, adulthood carries the baggage of adolescence around with it, our formative years spent in the American public education system alternatively deleterious or transformative to our own intellectual and emotional growth, our nation's teachers the first line of defense against the violence of racism and social prejudice, so long as we give them the freedom of authority to educate. Without the knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong, pure and corrupt, Kaye's film provides the evidence to make it unmistakably clear that the civil turmoil depicted in his American History X will continue, anger the physical manifestation of psychological neglect. It's impossible to come away from any film directed by Tony Kaye in an apathetic manner, his film's provocations immediately familiar in their sources of criticism and indictment, his dissatisfaction echoing our own subconsciously felt grievances, and informing our consciously held complaints. As a social activist, there is no director currently making films quiet as effective in eliciting a volatile response from the tacitly disengaged masses, and Detachment, the spiritual successor to his masterful American History X, is perhaps his greatest achievement yet, diagnostic of the social ills of a lack of a proper public education, else we remain in a culture divided by the color of our skin and the size of our respective bank accounts.
February 23, 2015
I'm going to disagree with some of the reviews I've read. I think, I believe, this film is very meaningful. It's poetic in what it portrays but also very bleek. So much in-fact, it's almost depressing. That's not to say there aren't a few joyful moments in the film, it's definitely a harsh reality as-well as an insightful way to express the issues that flood today's educational system in America. But it's much more then that, which is what I like the most about the film. It's an entire metaphor about life, it's ups and downs, how it effects everyone differently and how each individual person copes. It's symbolic in how it expresses that there is hope for those who struggle long enough to find it, if you've yet to lose yourself. If your deep into indie dramas, I say this is a good pick. Be warned, it's gloomy.
½ February 6, 2015
Just like he did in American History X, director Tony Kaye mercilessly tackles social issues and not give any solutions. After the first 15 minutes, you can already feel that the movie is falling apart by itself, going so many directions all at once. I like the way it was filmed and edited, and Adrien Brody gives a solid performance as a substitute teacher with a dark past. But overall, Detachment lacks depth.
January 12, 2015
My favorite kind of film.
One that's unrelentlessly miserable.
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