Here’s a film that achieves a level of titillation, a dissection of authorship, scholarship, and an analysis of intelligence gone awry, to a satisfying, surprisingly astounding conclusion, enhanced by applaudable performances. Director Alice Troughton and writer Alex MacKeith dare viewers to define their perceptions of a writer’s acuity: “average writers attempt originality, they fail. Good writers borrow from their betters. Great writers, steal”. Grippingly, subtlety “The Lesson” disrobes the banalities, cliches, and platitudeness drivel that informed said quote.
An aspiring author “Liam” (Daryl McCormack, Terrence Howard lookalike) takes a tutoring position at the home of his literary icon “J.M. Sinclair” (Richard E. Grant) whose son “Bertie”, (Stephen McMillan) preparing for entrance exams to Oxford University needs scholarly assistance and positive encouragement. He has been hired by Bertie’s mother “Helene Sinclair” (Julie Delpy) and signs a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) as he commences a journey of divisiveness, intrigue and Machiavellian cruelty.
Richard E. Grant invests his immense adroitness as an actor in a role of a lifetime; he slithers with the pompous elitism of an exceptional mind, crucifying anyone who flirts with entry into what he deems is, and his alone, realm; jealousy percolates at the soul of his myopic, egocentric diatribes. “As a writer you should not judge, you should understand. A good writer possesses not only his own spirit, but also the spirits of his friends”. J. M. Sinclair has no friends; therein lies the enormity of tragedy.