The Lesson (12A) |Close-UpFilm Review

Dir. Alice Troughton,  UK, 2023, 103 mins

Cast:  Richard E. Grant, Daryl McCormack, Julie Delpy, Stephen McMillan

Review by Carol Allen

This first feature from tv director Alice Troughton and debut screenwriter Alex MacKeith is an intriguing mystery involving a complex web of tragedy, deceit, plagiarism and revenge, which promises rather more than it actually delivers.  It is however good looking and very well acted.

Would be writer Liam (McCormack) is hired by successful author J.M. Sinclair (Grant) as tutor his son Berite (McMillan), in an effort to get the boy into university.  Sinclair’s financial success is evident in the mansion and grounds where his lives – a choice of location which is mouth wateringly beautiful and on which cinematographer Anna Patarakina has lavished loads of love.  

Delpy as Sinclair’s wife Helene (is quietly enigmatic, hiding her own agenda which emerges in time.   Grant is both supercilious and twitchy  as the author, particularly in one of the film’s best sequences, when Liam dares to show his own writing to the great man – and is predictably humiliated.   Stand by for comeback.

The real star however is Daryl McCormack as Liam, who was so good in the title role of Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.  He has something of the same charismatic quality onscreen as Michael Caine with  the ability to share through his eyes the character’s inner thoughts.   The camera loves him.