Review: LET'S-MAKE-THE-TEACHER-HAVE-A-MISCARRIAGE CLUB
My personal selection to win the "Best Film Title" award (had there been one) at this year's Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, Eisuke Naito's feature debut is an unflinching examination of frustrated teen angst and misplaced aggression that leads to brutal consequences for a gang of high school girls and their young female teacher. Based on true events, the film introduces a group of five junior high classmates, including new girl Fumiho and their uncompromising ringleader, Mizuki. They divide their time between idle gossip, killing small animals and generally causing mischief both in and out of school. But when they discover that their young attractive homeroom teacher, Ms. Sawako (Aki Mayata) is pregnant, the girls form the titular club and swear an oath to see their plan through to the end.
By all accounts Ms. Sawako is a fair and respected teacher, and our sympathies extend to her even further when it is revealed that her attempts to contact the girls' parents and discuss their behaviour is met with denial, confrontation and eventually demands for her resignation. Only Mizuki's parents are unreachable and the film suggests that there may be problems at home - possibly even abandonment issues - that are provoking her increasingly sociopathic behaviour.
The obvious comparison to make is with Tetsuya Nakashima's Confessions, but Naito's film was made on a fraction of the budget and never aspires to approach its subject matter in so ostentatious a manner as Nakashima does. The outcome of this homicidal clash between teacher and students also builds to a wildly different conclusion that is at once more plausible but also in some ways bolder than Nakashima's explosive finale. The limitations of the production mean that some of the performances veer on the side of stiff and unexpressive, however this actually works in favour of Mizuki's character, as the wooden delivery only adds to the emotional detachment of the girl's actions.
Clocking in at exactly an hour, Let's-Make-The-Teacher-Have-A-Miscarriage Club tackles a variety of topics, from overbearing parenting and teacher-student relations to more prescient topics such as child psychiatry and an intriguing pro-life dialogue to determine exactly when Sawako's pregnancy is deemed a human being, and as a result if the girls' actions should be deemed assault or attempted murder. It is a shame that the film's brief running time will most likely prevent it from seeing much of a release outside of the festival circuit, because it is provocative enough to stir up some healthy debate on a number of hot button issues.
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