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Eva Green plays a free-spirited swim instructor at a 1930s English boarding school who becomes obsessed by a new student, much to the chagrin of the girls, especially the one obsessed with her.
Following in the footsteps of her father, Ridley, uncle, Tony, and half-brother, Jake, Jordan Scott has taken to the director’s chair, helming her first feature film, “Cracks.” Based on the 1999 novel by Sheila Kohler, it’s a coming-of-age drama about how destructive and crippling desire can be.
Eva Green stars as Miss G, the coach of a diving team at an all-girls boarding school in England. She’s a wacky post-flapper type who wears scarves in her hair, smokes cigarettes and wows her charge with tales of her travels around the globe. Di Radfield (Juno Temple) is the best diver, a driven and nasty piece of business who sneeringly bosses around her teammates. Di is obsessed with Miss G, sneaking drags of her cigarettes, hanging on her every word and endeavoring to please her at every opportunity.
The balance of power is shaken with the arrival of Fiamma Corona (Maria Valverde), the beautiful daughter of a Spanish aristocrat, who dresses impeccably and is a far, far better diver than Di, despite the asthma that requires she carry an inhaler at all times. Miss G is instantly taken with Fiamma, making Di insanely jealous, while Fiamma for her part doesn’t care for either of them.
Jordan Scott has worked for years as a professional photographer, and her experienced eye pays off in “Cracks,” which is beautifully shot, as she captures the moonlight breaking the water’s surface from below or the grays of the English countryside.
Green’s evolution throughout the film from free spirit to nervous and fidgety to quivering mess is nicely done. Her eyes are wide with wondering on moment, darting about with fear the next. Scott gets great performances from her “school girls,” as well, ranging in age from 21 to 13. Temple is on point as a petulant bully who feels threatened; Valverde is all worldly poise; Imogene Poots as Poppy is prettier and nicer than Di, but defers to her sheer force of will.
Unfortunately, Miss G’s character’s arc is such that we know too much too soon about her interior life. The consequences of the “cracks” in her armor are so long in coming that they don’t pack nearly as much of an emotional punch as they should, despite going to some pretty dark places.
“Cracks” is a good enough to establish Jordan as the third-best director in her family, but she’s got a ways to go to catch her uncle Tony, to say nothing of her father. It’s a pretty and well-acted film, but never reaches the dramatic heights for which it aims.