Opening 26 Oct 2023
James M. Sinclair (Richard E. Grant), his wife Hélène (Julie Delpy), and their son Bertie (Stephen McMillan) live in a beautiful villa surrounded by a garden and a pond. Young teacher Liam Sommers (Daryl McCormack) resides in the guest house next door; he is tutoring Bertie for an entrance exam into Oxford University. James is a famous author, now working on his next bestseller. Liam is also writing a book. James writes on his computer, while Liam writes by hand. We learn, “You must write—no choice in the matter.” “Words set off memory of poems and literature.” “Good writers borrow, great writers steal.” Eventually, they reach a point, where they proofread each other’s works.
Naturally we “learn” lessons as the film progresses. Events occur which could harm the family, literature, even life, all played excellently, often in silence or with limited background music. As the film progresses through Parts I, II, and III, there are implications about a second son named Felix, swimming forbidden, a suicide. The only “normal” person in this rich household is the butler. Will James or Liam present a bestseller? Will they ever finish their work? Director Alice Troughton’s first full-length film plays in Hamburg, Germany, where we see the Alster Lake in the first few moments. Otherwise, the location could be anywhere as we are always inside the house. The Lesson premiered in June 2023 at the Tribeca Festival, then travelled to more festivals and arrived for the October 2023 Filmfest Hamburg, where it was well received. (Becky Tan)