The Tutor confirms that all teenagers in turtlenecks are trying to harm you. But, Garrett Hedlund ignores that advice in pursuit of a $2500 daily paycheck. All he has to do is tutor a high school kid into getting into a prestigious school. Seems simple? Hell, I used to tutor kids in college. That was 20 years ago and I was a normal dude.
Paychecks don’t make up for creepy kids
Noah Schnapp is meant to steal your focus. Child actors of a certain pedigree learn to play creepy well by adapting to their surroundings and reflecting it back on others. The Tutor gives Schnapp multiple chances to shine, as he makes Hedlund’s Ethan feel pretty uncomfortable. At times, it feels like an Ozon movie without the undercurrent of sex permeating each section of the film.
Even when The Tutor brings in the cousin and his sexed-up girlfriend, it feels almost like set dressing. They further the plot along, but I had to take notes on what their names were due to their forgettable nature. The same thought even lingers with Victoria Justice’s Annie. She’s pregnant, caring and needs the money to care for Ethan and her child. But, she’s a damsel in distress. Even when the distress is a lot more high concept than you think.
What goes into a thriller?
Director Jordan Ross helmed Thumper a few years back. I liked that movie and was eagerly anticipating The Tutor. There are shades of so many ideas at play in The Tutor. I can feel the attempts to paint a bit of Hitchcock, Ozon, Chabrol and even Minghella into the mix. However, attempts aren’t always successful. Just because I wrote a novel, that doesn’t make it Infinite Jest.
Somewhere between the second and third act, The Tutor falls on its face. I hated to see it happen, because it was landing a lot of its bigger ideas to start. However, the lousy cheating aspect and then having to pivot Schnapp’s intentions is a bridge too far. It almost feels like when children are playing and somebody feels like their losing so they pull out a last-minute new idea and everyone leaves mad. That’s kinda what happened in The Tutor.
Your mom is probably going to love The Tutor
Vertical has a real winner on their hands with The Tutor. However, it falls into the trap that slams the familiar. When you like something, but it’s quite common…how do you enjoy it? After all, we are a nation of people still eating Hershey’s chocolate and Big Macs. There are better options out there, but we keep returning to those things we have enjoyed for ages.
If you think about your cinematic intake and want to process what you’re seeing, then everything about the third act will derail The Tutor for you. However, if you’re passing time or if you’re one of a million tired individuals who just wants passing entertainment, then this film will entertain you. But, can it do anything more?
Probably not. Such is the life of the quiet thrilled designed to tell a familiar story with familiar people in a forced setup. It’s such a common occurrence that if you take the plot out to an abstract level, you’d spend hours of having an audience guess at what they’re actually watching.
Where do you leave The Tutor?
Ultimately, it boils down to what do you expect out of The Tutor? Much as with the film abstract, he doesn’t hold water that long when shown on its merits. But, I paid to see The Good Son in theaters because I wanted to see Macaulay Culkin cause chaos and mess people up. You get more cerebral mayhem in what Schnapp and the cast are doing in The Tutor.
This is why I try to watch movies more with mixed audiences now. While I know what I like, appreciate and need out of movies; it’s not the same as those who can watch whatever is on TBS on a Friday night. Both levels of appreciation are valid, but are coming from different backgrounds and mindsets. Anyone can eat a cheeseburger, but it takes a well experienced mind to know why they like it.
We’ve got some additional The Tutor coverage coming up on the site. If you live in an area that hasn’t booked the movie at the theatrical level, stay tuned for VOD release dates and news!