Required to have a third act that reassures audiences that hope springs eternal, they are packed with idealistic teachers, feel-good nostrums and kids whose exterior brashness disguises a sweet-natured soul. This holds true from “Blackboard Jungle” through “Dead Poets Society,” “Stand and Deliver” and “Dangerous Minds.”
Cantet’s film was…made independently, so the filmmaker wasn’t barraged with studio notes, asking him to insert inspirational moments or soften the insolence and anger of some of the key students.
There’s no three-act structure, no obstacles to overcome, simply the drama inherent in a situation that pits a doggedly focused teacher against a scrum of embattled teenagers, most from immigrant families, who take it as a challenge to see if they can provoke confrontation and undermine the teacher’s authority.
At least someone seems to understand what may be wrong with screenwriting in the U.S. today.