Title: Tanner Hall

Directed By: Francesca Gregorini, Tatiana von Furstenberg

Written By: Francesca Gregorini, Tatiana von Fustenberg

Cast: Rooney Mara, Georgia King, Brie Larson, Amy Ferguson, Tom Everett Scott, Chris Kattan

Screened at: Dolby88, NYC, 8/23/11

Opens: September 9, 2011

A movie about an all-girls’ secondary-level boarding school is probably not going to deal how the students discuss the situation in Libya. “Tanner Hall” is no exception to the usual rule that such a genre will emphasize sex, flirtations, troublemaking, all the subjects that parents don’t want to deal with, which is why they send their teens to such a place. These gals are stereotypical, which is to say that you won’t expect much thinking, er, outside the box. Things do occur during senior year but nothing that would justify putting caps and gowns on any of these lovely young women.

This is an ensemble-based film but one that is anchored by Rooney Mara in the role of Fernanda. (Mara is the co-ed who made an egregiously stupid financial move by dumping Mark Zuckerberg during the first five minutes of “The Social Network.” Soon to star in the American version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mara is going places.) In this story, let’s call Fernanda the home-wrecker, though her interference in an older man’s marriage is not entirely her fault. Brie Larson is Kate, a flirt, a no-action-talk-only type who seems scheduled to drive her English teacher out of the school. Amy Ferguson is here as Lucasta, a lesbian who may not know what the word means but realizes “there’s something wrong with me” when she cannot react to her boy-friend’s kiss. And Georgia King as Victoria, is trouble. There you have it. Each young woman is a type.

The story is not uninvolving, though, even as it clicks off the boxes on the checklist. Mr. Middlewood (Chris Kattan) plays against his “Corky Romano” type, stuck with a strange wife (Amy Sedaris) who goes through her own checklist of visualization techniques to try to arouse her erectile-ly dysfunctional husband—who manages to be ready to perform when enticed by the flirtatious Kate. Fernanda falls for The Older Married Man Who Just Became A Father, Gio (Tom Everett Scott, sporting an obvious rug on his head). Gio looks ready to throw his life overboard for Fernanda, yet another example of a guy whose brain is stapled in below his waist.

Despite all these soap-opera-like undercurrents, the Big Event for these girls is a trip to the town fair using an ill-begotten key, as these tykes are not allowed outside the grounds of the school. All is filmed in a leafy part of Rhode Island by Brian Rigney Hubbard with Roger Neill’s original music playing softly in the background. “Tanner Hall” is a coming-of-age chick-flick right down to the two writer-directors, Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg in their first joint project.

Rated R. 95 minutes. (c) 2011 by Harvey Karten Member: NY Film Critics Online

Story – C

Acting – C+

Technical – B+

Overall – C+

Tanner Hall

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