Directed By: Jordan Scott
Starring: Eva Green, Juno Temple, Maria Valverde, Imogen Poots, Ellie Nunn, Adele McCann, Zoe Carroll, Clemmie Dugdale
Filmmaking is certainly a collaborative effort and while that may be an asset in many ways, in some cases, it can also sink even the most beautiful and promising ship. Director Jordan Scott deservedly follows in the footsteps of her father, Ridley, while Juno Temple and Eva Green deliver unforgettably striking performances. If only it weren’t for that damn script.
At an all-girls British boarding school, Di (Temple) and the other members of Miss G’s (Green) diving team sit at the top of the social ladder. The girls follow their beloved instructor like puppy dogs, soaking in every word she says and doing everything and anything to impress her. While some find success in their efforts, it’s Di who is and will always be the shining star in Miss G’s eyes – or so she thinks.
When a new girl named Fiamma (Maria Valverde) arrives, not only is Miss G blown away by her diving ability, but by every facet of this gorgeous and unique Spanish specimen. Unlike her other students, Fiamma unenthusiastically obeys her teacher, which only draws Miss G in more. As Di sees her status as Miss G’s favorite waning, she takes her frustration out on Fiamma, enticing the other girls to join her in bullying the newcomer. Sure enough, bullying doesn’t solve anything, rather intensifies the situation on all fronts.
Cracks is a beautiful film – visually. Scott and cinematographer John Mathieson nail the camerawork creating vast amounts of moving, interesting and effective imagery. There’s a wonderful use of foreground and background in the shot composition, the setting is wildly appropriate as is the color palette in terms of the filming technique and on the makeup and costume department’s part as well.
Just as successful on screen are the stars. Everyone from Green down to the less prominent students are so well cast it makes this whole world really come to life. The dynamic between the young girls is particularly impressive, all of them falling into their stereotype quite nicely while still expressing facets beyond that typecast making the characters their own. But even that can’t steal this show from Temple. The range she displays is quite incredible taking Di from a happily in-control leader to a desperate tyrant in fear of losing control of her dynasty. Not only does Temple take her character from point A to B and back again with ease, but when she does venture into Di’s darker days, she’s incredibly frightening.
Temple may have no trouble trumping her younger co-stars, but Green certainly puts up a valiant fight for that spotlight. Miss G goes through quite the transformation as well and, like Temple, Green maintains a great degree of control over the part. At the start, Miss G has a powerfully warm and loving presence, so much so that you’ll actually want to impress her just as much as her on-screen students do. However, when things take a turn for the worse, her composure, well, cracks letting out a poisonous side that you never even knew existed.
Sadly, Cracks suffers from something beautiful imagery and fantastic characters can’t overcome, an ill-structured script. Writers Caroline Ip and Ben Court certainly knew where to start with this piece setting the scene just right and delivering an appropriate amount of character information, but when it comes time to get into the meat of the story, things get sloppy. The biggest causality of this shortcoming is Fiamma. She arrives well into the film and is so weakly presented she’s got no chance of infiltrating the bond you’ve already formed with Miss G, Di and the other girls. Even worse? The character is incredibly dull. The only connection you’re able to make to Fiamma is through the other women, namely Di and Miss G.
As successful as those characters are, they can’t even escape the wrath of an all-around confusing script. Cracks makes an attempt at having three protagonists and fails on every front. At the onset, we’re lead to believe this whole story will be told through Di’s eyes, but then Miss G’s perspective pops up now and again. By the time Fiamma enters the picture and tries to take hold of your sympathy, you won’t know who to relate to. Ultimately the compassion is spread so thin, deciding how to react to certain moments becomes confusing. Should we hate Di for picking on Fiamma? Do we want Miss G to get what she wants? Whereas if just one of these characters commanded your heart, certain instances would pack more of a punch. Instead, we share a little concern with each, making their plight far less effectual and the finale of the film rather unsatisfying.
This is really a killer for Cracks. As wonderful as some of its assets are, they lose their strength amidst the weak script. If anything, Cracks is worth your while to get a taste of some talent to come. Scott certainly shows she’s taken on some of her father’s ability in her feature debut while Temple and Green prove they’re deserving of moving far and beyond their up-and-coming statuses.
By Perri Nemiroff