Which is more dramatic: a tragedy in itself or the painful revelation behind this tragedy? Director Blake Ridder may not be able to give a definitive answer to this question, but he does manage to create in ‘The English Teacher‘ a delicate context that intelligently questions the weight of a loss and of a fatal guilt. The characters of this short film are faced with the impossibility of finding their own emotional comfort, while their destinies are brutally linked by an irremediable mistake. The aim of this drama is quite minimalist at the narrative level, but extremely complex from a psychological point of view. This fact contributes to the creation of an elusive, almost indigestible atmosphere, which, although it is not really understood by the spectator until the last moments of the project, envelops the characters in an aura of inexplicable pathological melancholy. In fact, the revelation endured by the protagonist of this short film coincides with the revelation of the viewers who also reconfigure the entire narrative structure, accessing new ways to understand the actions of the characters. In other words, the director constructs almost imperceptibly a deliberately syncopated context, leaving the viewer to create some expectations, in order to distort this general image, as soon as the characters seem to reach a minimum of mental comfort. Everything is an illusion, since the tragic guilt returns, testing the emotional endurance of the characters.


Robert is an English teacher who suffers from loneliness. When Jin, an Asian migrant, asks Robert to teach him English, a sincere friendship seems to raise between the two. However, this friendship hides some shocking truths.


Without being a psychological thriller, despite the tense atmosphere surrounding the characters, the short film achieves the demands of a project that plays with the expectations of viewers, leaving the impression of an imminent disaster. Hence, Blake Ridder creates a powerful personal drama, using some of the principles of a mystery film. The beginning sequence that has a relevance only at the end, the “heavy” instrumental music or the gestures of the protagonist who suffers in the privacy of his house invites the viewer to speculate, to create expectations and, finally, to be deceived. Likewise, the almost impeccably constructed image, dominated by a bright chromatic, contrasts somewhat cynically with the characters’ inner conflicts, with the unseen “darkness” of their own minds tormented by guilt and despair, opening a moral dilemma that questions the limits of a seemingly providential friendship. ‘The English Teacher’ is a short, touching drama built as an exercise in ethics that intrigues both through the complexity of the protagonists’ psychological mechanisms and through its dynamism and unexpected structure.


For the inner complexity of the characters confronted with the multiple valences of emotional suffering and for the professionalism of the cinematic construct that defies the viewers’ expectations, ‘The English Teacher’ was awarded with the Film of the Month distinction in the June 2020 edition of TMFF