Eye For Film >> Movies >> Afterschool (2008) DVD Review
Reviewed by: Anton BitelRead Jeff Robson's film review of Afterschool
With its austere widescreen imagery and blank-faced performances, Antonio Campos' Afterschool masterfully employs aloof restraint to conceal a great deal of inner tension, turmoil and terror. Both unassuming and uncomfortable, it is the sort of epoch-defining, Antonioni-style film (with a twist of Haneke) that is easily overlooked – and the same is true of the extras that come on this disc from Network Releasing.
Deleted scenes, for example, are a staple of releases for the home market, and usually comprise ten or so minutes of poor cutting-room discards – but here there are a whopping 53 minutes of additional long shots, whether alternative takes of scenes that made it into the film (including the awkwardly unpleasant, and in the end oddly tender, outdoor sex scene between Robert and Amy), or wholly new sequences (more establishing shots and classroom scenes, allusions to another fatal incident from the previous year, etc). Miraculously, goofy bloopers are held back until the last five minutes – by which time, after so much bleak gravity, the sight of Ezra Miller (who plays Robert) spontaneously smiling and laughing feels well earned. The Mobile Phone Videos, fuller versions of the three cellphone-shot sequences from the film, are more throwaway, but at just three minutes in duration, are hardly a tax on the viewer's time.
Teacher Testimonials is 26 minutes of hesitant video interviews with 'teachers' - which is to say, actors brilliantly improvising in the roles of teachers – as they comment on the ethos at Bryton Academy and express their confused feelings about the recent fatal incidents at the prep school. This is an excellent free-standing companion piece to the film, with the focus on staff rather than students, and brimming with subtly telling signs of the teachers' self-aggrandisement and self-delusion. As the last interlocutor so wonderfully puts it, "I taught them in all kinds of ways – mostly in math".
Even the image gallery here is a cut above the average – a three-minute slideshow of behind-the-scenes stills that offers some insight into the craft and collaborative effort behind the apparent desultory naturalism of the film's look. Lastly, there are two rather different trailers for the film, including the intense one cut for the New York Film Festival.Reviewed on: 11 Mar 2010