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Laramie Movie Scope: The Teacher's Lounge

All it takes is one little incident

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 28, 2023 – Teacher Carla Nowak (Leonie Benesch of “The White Ribbon”) has a class of well-disciplined students, well, except for one kid who tries to cheat on a test, but they seem to be doing pretty well until one day ...

One day, her class is interrupted by teachers and administrators who look through student wallets (with permission) seeking stolen money. It seems there are petty thefts going on in the school. One student, the son of Muslim immigrants, has a lot of money in his wallet and is suspected of thefts.

It turns out his mother gave him the money, so the raid is unproductive, and it results in bad feelings among the students, and the parents of the boy accused. Carla wonders if maybe she can find out who the thief is herself. She leaves her notebook on her desk in the teacher's lounge with the camera turned on, and her purse hanging on her chair.

Sure enough, when Carla returns later, she finds money missing out of her wallet, and her laptop camera catches a video of someone stealing the money. The video doesn't show a face, but it does show a distinctive pattern on the thief's clothing, and that pattern matches the clothing of a woman who works in the office, a woman who has access to the teacher's lounge.

When Carla confronts the woman about the theft, she denies it angrily and orders her out of the office. Angry, Carla takes her evidence to the principle, who suspends the suspect. The police get involved, and the whole situation spirals out of control. Carla feels guilty, thinking maybe she was wrong to confront the woman.

Lawyers get involved, and Carla's use of her laptop camera is thought to be a possible invasion of privacy. Carla's favorite student happens to be the son of the accused woman, and he is angry at the accusation. The student newspaper publishes an inflammatory article about the incident. Carla's students rebel against her.

The parents get involved in the incident and the whole situation spirals further out of control, resulting in a physical attack and destruction of Carla's laptop. This movie is a case study in how one little incident can cause a series of misunderstandings, suspicion and anger. A clash of cultures with immigrant families doesn't help either.

This is a German language film which will probably be in the running for an Academy Award. Because of the language barrier, even with English subtitles, and the differences between American and German laws and customs, it was not easy for me to follow all the little details of this movie, but it sure looks like the kind of situation that could happen in America, or other countries. I was reminded of the recent deadly riots in Belfast, Ireland, which all started with a rumor.

Sometimes, all it takes is a rumor to lead to some really tragic events. This movie rates an A.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2023 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]