School Life Cinema review

A veritie film about the inner workings of a boarding school, might seem like the most obvious tale to lift the heart and soul. It is however a very complex conversation about the role of learning in shaping a human life. The role of giving information to equip children for a future at places as diverse as Harrow, Tanzania and Spain is compelling and counters much of the stereotypes of life in a school that looks after children all day, everyday.

John and Amanda Leyden  are two ‘prep school’ teachers, who have spent some 46 years at Headfort, a local Northern Irish boarding school. They live on the land in a house made for the staff of the former manor and share the duty of informing and educating children for the future. Now however they want to moves on and out of this. The film traces a journey and many discoveries.  Seeing them reflect on the end of a career that has brought happiness, comedy, sadness and success.

A piece like this might make some film watchers squirm. Its a frank and detailed look at the final year of two people that gave everything to something they loved. Teaching. It is also a film that explores the dynamics of education and position in society.

The students are the elite certainly but they are also fragile and have tenderness.

For me however the real piece to watch for is that relationship. Two people living in a life they are happy with and loving what they are doing. They are funny, touching and often seem utterly compelled by a love of learning. I for one left uplifted but not bowlled over. It does set out to do that mind. Like the teachers, the film wants us to learn.

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