Bond girl Eva Green turns up at a British girls boarding school as a free-spirited teacher who isn't all she's cracked up to be in the erotically-laced period drama, Cracks.
Marking an assured feature debut by Jordan Scott (the daughter of Sir Ridley), the gorgeously appointed film might have benefited from a subtler touch, especially in its later frames, but the performances she coaxes from her all-female cast receive top marks. Placement with a specialty outfit is a no-brainer.
The year is 1934, but you wouldn't necessarily know it the way Green's Miss G struts down the halls of the elite girls' school where she instructs her swimming students that desire is the most important aspect of life.
With her cigarettes and silk pants she's the embodiment of cool sensuality, but the arrival of an exotic Spanish student (Maria Valverde) causes irreparable fissures to form in that carefully cultivated facade.
Adapted by Scott, Ben Court and Caroline Ip from the novel by Sheila Kohler, the film neatly sets up the inevitable triangular power struggle among popular Miss G, the new girl and the resident mean girl (the superb Juno Temple), but once the heated plot kicks into gear, Scott gets a little heavy-handed with all those meaningful glances.
But she lends just the right weight to that tangible sexual tension hanging in the air and elicits confident performances, especially from Temple and Green, whose disarming stare can go from sultry to intimidating with the unblinking of an eye.
Production contributions are top drawer, led by cinematographer John Mathieson (a frequent collaborator of her father's), whose radiant compositions -- particularly those slow-motion diving sequences -- strike the desired sensual chord.