Movie Review: Another student-teacher affair, this one “Before the Dawn”

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This is how a fellow gets a reputation.

You review a Netflix movie, “My Teacher, My Obsession.” Yeah, you know what it’s about. But hey, any chance one gets to toss the phrase “Hot for Teacher” into a review, right?

The producers of “Scarborough,” a troubling British psychological drama that deals much more honestly with the very touchy/politically-and-morally-incorrect sort of “romance,” suggest you review their film.

And then comes the pitch for “Before the Dawn.” It’s another student-teacher love affair, more sordid titillation dressed up with weak attempts to “doing the right thing,” strictly pro-forma, all the way.

Making out in the rain, sex in the ol’swimmin’ hole, etc.

And then it gets worse.

It’s the sort of movie you make with the idea that “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Australian actress Alana de Freitas stars in it and scripted it. Nice way to “break into” the American market with.

She plays Lila Kendy, the new English teacher at Westbury Catholic. She’s moving on from an unhappy past, ready to start over.

“Troubled” teen Jason (Jared Scott) needs a fresh start, too. He’s just transferred there, with his mother (Kelly Hancock) fervently hoping that he’ll get straightened out and not “turn out like your brother.”

Jason may look like every other mop-topped preppie at Westbury. But he knows “every spot where there’s no security camera,” one of his clients declares. He’s the campus drug dealer. And he’s getting bad grades.

Mom may cry “You’re wasting God’s money, Jason.” But with a little extra attention in English class, and a little after-school tutoring, he just might turn things around.

Or not.

It begins with the personal questions, tilts towards “That would be inappropriate,” and the next thing you know — INTIMACY!

That comes before “We can’t do this again/Stop thinking/You’re just being paranoid.”

Things progress even though she knows it’s wrong, even if she picks up on his side hustle, even if the PE teacher (Houston Rhines) who is interested in her might catch on, and the catty colleague across the hall (Carissa Dalton) is certain to.

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You can toss two good looking actors together and mandate “chemistry” in your story, but that doesn’t mean it shows on the screen. The usual way these movies play out — yes, I am now an expert on the genre — is fire by friction, white hot passion. ”

There’s no sign of that, here. The film backs away from being overly explicit, a laughable lapse into “demure.”

The clinginess, the rising fear of discovery, the naive/idiotic “mistakes” that will trip them up? Those by-the-book ingredients are here.

Along with the escalating drug dealer problems, and rape. As I said, “It gets worse.”

Time has run out on this genre, thanks to #timesup. There can’t be any more of these “inappropriate” romances in the production pipeline, right? Outside of porn, I mean.

1star6

MPAA Rating: unrated, drugs, violence and sexual content, profanity

Cast: Alana de Freitas, Jared Scott, Houston Rhines, Kelly Hancock, Carissa Dalton

Credits: Directed by Jay Holden, script by Alana de Freitas. An Indie Rights/Amazon Prime release.

Running time: 1:45

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