0

"A man's character is his fate." So proclaimed Greek philosopher Heraclitus, and it's also the maxim of William Hundert, Kevin Kline , who, when the film begins, has taught at St. Benedict's Academy for Boys, an educational establishment for the sons of the wealthy, for 34 years. Flashback to 1976, when Hundert's class includes, among other boys of all types, Sedgewick Bell, Emile Hirsch , the son of a U.S. Senator, a rebel who is favoured by his teacher. Michael Hoffman's very academic film is firmly in the tradition of Mister Holland's Opus and Dead Poets Society or, if you want to go even further back, Goodbye Mr. Chips . It's decently made, decently acted and moderately interesting but, in the end, pretty forgettable. When it finally gets to the point, which is a potentially interesting one about the duplicity of some sections of the Establishment, interest has waned. I doubt that Kevin Kline is capable of giving a bad performance, but he deserved stronger material than this. Comments by Margaret Pomeranz I kept waiting for the film to begin, and yet underneath I thought this rather classic school genre flic had a subversive element. It?s set in a school where the future leaders of society are being schooled, and it?s interesting that the one who goes for public office is the major failure. I never mind being reminded that honour, honesty and integrity are things worthwhile striving for, particularly when Kevin Kline?s doing it, and particularly when it refers to the future leaders of society. But it is a strange film in its structure. You don?t ever really get the full impact of Mr Hundert?s hubris ? Bell is not an enemy to be conquered rather a renegade to be converted ? as you should. It?s maybe not enough that he?s let off the hook so completely at the end of the film. He?s actually betrayed his own ideals. But performances are solid, and the charismatic young Emile Hirsch is well cast as class clown and seducer to the dark side. Not a major effort but not a complete disaster either.