VIDEO: The trailer for The Country Teacher
Czech writer/director Bohdan Sláma's histrionic drama finds dour teacher Petr (Pavel Liska) fleeing from a private Prague academy to a rural elementary school. Why is not immediately clear, and an unhurried intrigue surrounds his arrival in the fluidly shot village.
A visit home reveals that he's gay, but, as the storytelling shifts from subtle to sloppy, the particulars of his heavy turmoil remain vague. Less amorphous are the woes of the farm folk, a lonely, pig-tailed herder (an affecting Zuzana Bydzovská) and her sulky teenage son (Ladislav Sedivý). The triangle that develops —Mom lusts for Petr and Petr for the boy — feels forced and overheated, and the resolution is maddeningly unrealistic.
Toss in a muttering crone, much imbibing, a lecherous bumpkin, a suicide attempt, sexually charged tussling, a busy haystack, and two cow births and this overreaching exploration of forgiveness and self-acceptance eventually turns risible.