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Director: Tony Kaye

Cast: Adrien Brody, Marcia Gay Harden, James Caan

An educator and the school where he works are both on the verge of collapse in this hard-hitting drama from director Tony Kaye. Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody) is a gifted teacher whose psyche has been taking a beating -- he still bears emotional scars from his mother's drunken tirades while he was a child, and


An educator and the school where he works are both on the verge of collapse in this hard-hitting drama from director Tony Kaye. Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody) is a gifted teacher whose psyche has been taking a beating -- he still bears emotional scars from his mother's drunken tirades while he was a child, and he's been forced to look after his grandfather (Louis Zorich) as he dies a slow, painful death. Henry has become a substitute teacher rather than fully commit himself to his students, but his latest assignment takes him to a high school where the building is in sad shape and the staff are faring no better. The principal, Carol Dearden (Marcia Gay Harden), is dealing with an unsupportive school board and a hostile husband (Bryan Cranston), Mr. Wiatt (Tim Blake Nelson) is being driven to the edge of a nervous breakdown, Mr. Seaboldt (James Caan) is too cynical to care about his work anymore, and guidance counselor Dr. Parker (Lucy Liu) spends more time insulting the students than helping them. As Barthes struggles to find a reason to continue, two troubled kids break through his wall of ennui -- Meredith (Betty Kaye), an overweight student who is a target for bullies among the students and staff, and Erica (Sami Gayle), a 15-year-old who has sex for money and is used as a punching bag by those around her. Detachment received its world premiere at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Politicians and pundits never tire of discussing the shortcomings of America's public-education system, as teachers are either held up as saints or denigrated for being out of touch and protected by a union less interested in students than in saving their own from unemployment. Tony Kaye's Detachment attempts to burn through this rhetoric with an engaging portrait of a flawed man whose job is to reach the students the system is failing. The movie stars Adrien Brody as Henry Barthes, a substitute English teacher who takes a monthlong assignment at the worst high school in his district. Troubled kids are funneled to the building, parents are nowhere to be found, and every member of the staff is stressed to the breaking point by the aggressive, unmotivated, and seemingly unreachable students. Barthes has made substituting his career because it fits his emotional makeup; he doesn't try to form bonds with anyone, in large part because of his own tumultuous childhood, which reveals itself in scenes of him visiting his ailing grandfather at an assisted-care facility. However, he drops his defense mechanisms to help Erica (Sami Gayle), a teen prostitute he meets during a late-night bus ride after a visit with his grandfather. Kaye's movie is far from an upbeat, feel-good To Sir, With Love for the 21st century. It's a film devoted to understanding the necessity, as well as the limits, of the basic human desire to help other people. Barthes intones at one point that there are some days when we simply have "limited space for others," but Kaye makes it clear that the students who attend this school have no chance at all without teachers, counselors, and principals who must constantly make space for them. It's a harrowing dichotomy, and Brody is perfectly cast as the complex lead character. There aren't many performers who do haunted as well as Brody; after all, he won his well-deserved Oscar for portraying a man ravaged by his experiences during the Holocaust. He plays Barthes' empathy, intelligence, and pain with a matter-of-fact manner that grounds the film, even when some of the situations become nearly operatic in their melodramatic scope. Carl Lund's ambitious script wants to provide a hard look at the realities of a school full of discarded kids, but it offers hope by giving us a main character who is just as full of anger and pain as the kids he's teaching -- he's a living example that you can keep going in the face of such monumental personal problems. Barthes throws a couple of tantrums in the movie, and in those instances we not only understand the depth of his pain, but the struggle he personally fights every day to keep himself together. As a psychological portrait of the main character, Detachment is a compelling experience. By the end, we understand why Barthes is drawn to this work. There are moments where Kaye overreaches, however, especially in his attempts to infuriate us with the state of the modern public-school system. But every time the movie threatens to boil over into unbridled one-note hysterics about a dismal situation, Kaye brings us back to the gaunt, tired face of Adrien Brody, and we realize there's nothing simplistic about what the film is trying to accomplish.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
New Video Group
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Interview with director Tony Kaye and Academy Award winner Adrien Brody, presented by American Express; Interviews from the 2012 red carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Detachment

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Adrien Brody Henry Barthes
Marcia Gay Harden Dearden
James Caan Mr. Charles Seaboldt
Lucy Liu Dr. Doris Parker
Christina Hendricks Ms. Sarah Madison
Betty Kaye Meredith
Tim Blake Nelson Mr. Wiatt
Bryan Cranston Mr. Dearden
Louis Zorich Grampa
Blythe Danner Ms. Perkins
William Petersen Mr. Serge Kepler
Sami Gayle Erica
Isiah Whitlock Mr. Mathias
Chris Papavasiliou Dr. Hart
Kwoade Cross Andy
David Hausen Angry Dad
Roslyn Ruff Angry Mother
Gerald Walsh Cafeteria Worker
John Cenatiempo Male Child Services Officer
Brenda Pressley Female Child Services Officer
Tiffani Holland Cindy
Lucian Maisel Mr. Wiatt
Alex Boniello Dennis
Sze Ming Au Ellen
Mary Joy Female Orderly
Michael Hammond Frank
Ronen Rubinstein Gangsta
Al Calderon George
Brennan Brown Greg Raymond
Celia Schaefer Gretchen from the Free Clinic
Reagan Leonard Henry's Mother
Tarikk Mudu Jerry
Kevin T. Collins John in Apartment
Stephen Payne John on Bus
James Hosey Kenny
Michael Kaufman Kid in Henry's Class
Nancy Rodriguez Lupe
Justin Campbell Male Orderly
Aaron Sauter Marcus
Josh Pais Meredith's Father
Renee Felice Smith Missy
Doug E. Doug Mr. Norris
Rebecka Ray Mrs. Wiatt
Patricia Rea Ms. Estrada
Mama Kohn Prep Club Girl #1
Corwin C. Tuggles Ricky
Lonon Jay Wilson School Cop
Samantha Logan Spitting Daughter
Ralph Rodriguez Student #23
Annabel Barrett Student #4
April Maxey Tanya
Amber Vanterpool Tina
Eli Massillon Tony
Alsharik Sejour Tutored Kid
Jonathan Hudson Wiatt's Son
Elvis Muccino Young Henry

Technical Credits
Tony Kaye Director,Cinematographer
Adrien Brody Executive Producer
Barry Alexander Brown Editor
Charlie Foster Asst. Director
Andy Gowan Musical Direction/Supervision
Bingo Gubelmann Producer
Jade Healy Production Designer
Benji Kohn Producer
Andre Laport Executive Producer
Carl Lund Producer,Screenwriter
Newton Brothers Score Composer
Chris Papavasiliou Producer
Geoffrey Richman Editor
Wendy Schecter Costumes/Costume Designer
Greg Shapiro Producer
Austin Stark Producer
Peter Sterling Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Detachment
1. The Fringe [11:51]
2. Hard-Faced [7:47]
3. Visits and Memories [9:02]
4. Trapped [10:59]
5. Impermanence [9:25]
6. Old Passions [8:40]
7. A Release [9:37]
8. Someone to Talk to [6:49]
9. Parents' Night [6:45]
10. Falling Apart [7:18]
11. The Weight [5:15]
12. Credits [4:18]


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