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Asian cinema: Japanese films

Film review: My Teacher – Suzu Hirose stars in ill-advised high-school romance

Screening a film about a high-school pupil who professes her love for a teacher and won’t take no for an answer would appear woefully tone deaf in the current climate, for all that has been well constructed by director Takahiro Miki

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 January, 2018, 3:45pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 January, 2018, 4:30pm

2/5 stars

There was probably a time when this awkward high-school romance would have been considered acceptable fare. But in a social climate awash with scandal, where US state senate candidates and Hollywood A-listers alike face allegations of sexual misconduct with minors, Takahiro Miki’s My Teacher feels woefully ill-advised.

The actress Suzu Hirose is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous presence in Japanese cinema following her breakout performance in Hirokazu Koreeda’s Our Little Sister (2015). Here she plays 17-year-old Hibiki, a high-school sophomore who becomes infatuated with her history teacher, Mr Ito (Toma Ikuta, Close-Knit ).

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Spurred on by her classmates, who also harbour romantic yearnings for various members of the school’s staff, and by an inspirational quote imparted by Ito himself, Hibiki professes her love to her teacher. Ito wisely rebuffs her, and the advances of a colleague (Manami Higa), but Hibiki’s doe-eyed persistence threatens to wear down the young educator.

Miki’s previous film, the excellent My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday , opened in Hong Kong just last month and featured another impossible love story across an insurmountable divide. In My Teacher, however, the lovers are not separated by the time-space continuum, but rather a sensible and vital code of ethics.

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Packaged as wish fulfilment for adolescent girls, My Teacher offers a worryingly tone-deaf interpretation of a moral quandary which seems to encourage hormone-fuelled minors to act on their misguided impulses.

While it is technically well constructed around a likeable crop of performances, its premise is irresponsible and out of touch with today’s sensibilities.

My Teacher opens on January 11

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