The Lesson (15, 103 Minutes)
Sharp, witty and full of gems, this twisted game of cat and mouse is a real treat as once illustrious literary giant J.M Sinclair (Richard E. Grant) and wife Hélène (Julie Delpy) hire budding author Liam Sommers (Daryl McCormack) to be a mentor to their wayward son, who is under great expectation to gain entry into Oxford.
But secrets and lies come to the forefront in this whodunnit of sorts even if it lacks a dead body.
Manipulation is rife amongst the family and it becomes clear that there is a great game to be played with fan boy McCormack the unwilling participant as he learns the greatest literary lesson of all: “writer’s steal”.
This is a fantastic film debut from director Alice Troughton, who delivers a suspenseful tale which manages to be both dark and incredibly clever, thanks to Alex MacKeith’s crafty screenplay which takes clear inspiration from the whodunnits of yesteryear, with a pinch of that Agatha Christie-esque suspicion thrown in and even vibes of the melancholic Gone Girl, particularly in regards to these twisty relationships that are codependent on totally messing up other people’s lives.
Richard E Grant has made pomposity his stock in trade without ever sinking into cariacature and this is another prime performace from him.
McCormack, who can presently be seen in the BBC1 drama The Woman In The Wall, is obviously destined for great things.
The toxicity that runs through the Sinclair family is edge of your seat stuff. As for the score…magnificent. Grand and macabre, burning through this story with majesty.
This truly is an impressive feature. The type that will keep you on tenderhooks. If twists and turns are your thing, this film is for you.