What is right and what is wrong in a situation? Sometimes it depends on who you ask. But in the new Sony Picture Classics film The Teachers’ Lounge, the lines begin to blur when one issue leads to another and things begin to snowball out of control.
The movie follows a new teacher at a German school and her class of seventh-grade students. There appears to be a thief at the school, and the movie begins with some accusations against students. While Carla is against the inquiry and how the students are treated, she starts to notice some weird things happening inside the teachers’ lounge where students aren’t allowed. She decides to leave her jacket with her wallet in it unattended while recording to see if she can catch the thief red-handed. What she doesn’t realize is she has broken school policy and caused a legal mess once she reveals she has video proof of someone stealing.
The problems begin with the fact that Carla seems to have started her own witch hunt without the authority to do so. Her actions not only are similar to what she didn’t approve of being used towards the students but go beyond. When her actions are called out by other staff members, and eventually her students start to fight back – everything she loves about teaching is at risk. It makes you question what would have been the right way to handle this and if Carla’s actions were right at all. It also shows how quickly an inquisition can get out of hand without any oversight and what it can cost those involved.
The movie is nothing short of a heavy-handed moral tale. Who actually did wrong here? Was it Carla by breaking the rules recording, the thief that we’re still never given a true resolution to who it was, the students or the other staff members? It shows just how quickly things can devolve and get out of hand. How one assumption or action can lead to others and the judgment by the masses, and how others can retaliate if things aren’t handled correctly. From one choice and action, the story begins to spiral out of control for Carla and those around her.
The Teachers’ Lounge is in German with English subtitles and will be in select theaters this Friday.
THE TEACHERS’ LOUNGE
Carla Nowak is a dedicated, idealistic young teacher in her first job at a German middle school. Her relaxed rapport with her seventh-grade students is put under stress when a series of thefts occur at the school, and a staff investigation leads to accusations and mistrust among outraged parents, opinionated colleagues and angry students. Caught in the middle of these complex dynamics, Carla tries to mediate-but the more she tries to do everything right, the more desperate her position becomes. Starring Leonie Benesch, Michael Klammer, Rafael Stachowiak, Eva Löbau