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Troubled substitute teacher Henry Barthes (Brody) is brought in to a failing school to teach English. Having previously managed to maintain his distance, here he forms a genuine connection with both the pupils and the staff, who include a love interest (Hendricks) and a cynical mentor (Caan).


Adrien Brody stars as a despairing substitute teacher who nevertheless connects with kids at a failing school. His resolve to keep his distance falters amid all the unhappy people desperate for a lifeline. American History X director Tony Kaye eschews the ‘inspired teacher making a difference’ cliché, and the good news here is that Brody and the ensemble are tremendous (especially James Caan, superb as the cynical guidance counsellor). But this is bleak, the social indictment and nasty incident slathered on with a heavy hand and pretentious monologuing.

Incredible performances from the cast, but Detachment is perhaps just too pretentiously depressing for its own good.