Blue Car

I just watched the compelling coming-of-age film, Blue Car(IMDB), written and directed by Karen Moncreiff.

Blue Car focuses on Meg (Agnes Bruckner), a reflective high school student facing a difficult family life of divorced parents, a mother who has a lousy job and leaves Meg to care for her younger sister. Meg finds some release from these difficulties while taking a creative writing course with Mr. Auster (David Strathairn), a charismatic teacher who begins to show an interest in her work, siezing upon her memories of her father leaving her mother which she associates with the image of a blue car in her writing. He offers Meg encouraging feedback, telling her to “dig deeper.”

Viewers see quickly that Auster is drawn to Meg’s vulnerability, and he begins creating situations in which the two can be alone together, building an intimacy between them. Auster pushes Meg to enter a national poetry contest, creating a situation in which they can share lunch alone in his classroom in order for her to work on her poetry. He gives her a ride home from school when she misses the bus. He leaves chocolate wrapped to look like a blue car. He reads a section of his novel that we later learn he cribbed from Rilke (I didn’t recognize the lines), but for most of the film, Auster avoids acting on his sexual impulses (in this sense, the film uses Strathairn’s restrained persona very effectively).

But the film is more than a cautionary story about predatory teachers who take advantage of emotionally vulnerable students. Instead, the film seems to address the complexities of growing up under difficult circumstances, and her teacher’s behavior is just one of many crises Meg faces over the course of the film. In general, this is a solid, serious film that deserves a much wider audience, and it left me wanting to discuss it, and the questions it raised, with others who have seen it.

By the way, Miramax’s marketing of this film was rather disappointing. Rather than portray the film’s themes effectively, Miramax chose to use a lurid cover showing a teen girl from the neck down wearing a Lolita-type outfit (unlike anything Meg ever wore in the film) with a soundbite comparing the film to American Beauty. Instead of marketing the film on its many strengths, they go for cheap thrills. I actually resisted the film for several weeks because of this cheap packaging.

3 Comments »

  1. Clancy Said,

    December 18, 2003 @ 9:58 pm

    Okay, I’ll bite. I love, love, love the Rodney Dangerfield movie Back to School. I don’t know if that fits the teaching movie genre though. :-)

    I can’t think of any teaching movies I’ve seen besides the ones you’ve named, but just to make a contribution, I didn’t see Finding Forrester. Antwone Fisher seems to be a variation on the teaching movie theme, and I wanted to see Higher Learning when it came out, but never did.

    Oh, and Rock’n’Roll High School is in my top two favorite movies of all time.

  2. Alyssa Said,

    September 6, 2008 @ 8:49 pm

    Where Can I find the Fing poetry from the film?

  3. Chuck Said,

    September 7, 2008 @ 7:20 am

    Unfortunately, I don’t know. I haven’t seen the movie in over four years. Good luck in tracking it down.

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