As the daughter of Ridley and the niece of Tony, Jordan Scott has a lot to live up to. With Sheila Kohler’s novel as a platform she has a good starting point for a story, although quite how cinematic a tale this is may divide opinion.

It’s the 1930s and Miss G (Green) is the enigmatic and idolised teacher at an exclusive girls’ boarding school in England. Elegant, attractive and worldly, she is everything her teenage protégés aspire to. Teacher’s pet is Di Radfield (Temple), leader of the gang and star of the school diving team. Life is rosy for all until the arrival of Spanish princess Fiamma (Valverde). Beautiful, intelligent, talented and well-travelled, she poses an immediate threat to Di, changes the dynamics between Miss G and the girls irrevocably and brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘schoolgirl crush’.

Unusually but necessarily, this is a film without almost no male presence whatsoever. As a result, we are drawn deeply into the teenage female world where loyalties shift with the wind and emotions run high. Exploring relationships, desire in all its forms, love, sex, and, not to give too much away, darker subjects, Cracks is alternately intriguing and disturbing.

The shooting location is as remote and secluded as the girls are from their families. The school building is grey, cold and the endless and forbidding corridors are almost prison-like in their austerity. This grim and unremitting atmosphere is present even when the girls are diving in the sunshine, with shivering and goosepimples to the fore. Incidentally, the slow-motion diving sequences are a delight to behold and one example of how beautifully Cracks is shot.

But despite the simmering feeling of dread and permanently chilly atmosphere, there’s not quite enough tension to sustain the film and when the climax does come it’s over almost too suddenly. The cast is uniformly excellent, there’s a certain emotional weight and it looks fantastic but while never dull, Cracks generally lacks that bit of drama to make it a true classic. Nevertheless, this is a very good debut and augurs well for future features from Jordan Scott. 

Cracks at IMDb

Justin Bateman is a Screenjabber contributor

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