Jan 14, 2007

don’t look back: on loving annabelle (2006)

last year i posted the dangers flowers’ “all over me” over at my multiply site, and mentioned that it was from “Loving Annabelle,” a movie by Katherine Brooks which carried the intriguing tagline: One teacher. One student. One secret.

last night, some seven months later, i finally managed to get my hands on the movie via a loaned DVD — it was the second movie in my saturday three-movie marathon night, the first one being tere’s “Bend it Like Beckham” (i will rave about this and keira’s abs some other day) and the other one being “Girl Interrupted”.

and can i just say it was actually ill-advised of me to watch Loving Annabelle alone? and not just because erin kelly (and a few scenes) were too hot to be handled in all my alone glory, but really. thank goodness for cigarettes and having the room to myself anyway (sorry krista, i hope the odour’s gone when you come back.)

“For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks… the work for which all other work is but preparation.” -Rainer Maria Rilke


i was surprised to find out that this story of a catholic school teacher falling in love with one of her students is actually a remake of a 1931 german film, Maedchen in Uniform. which is like, wow. 1931.

so that makes Loving Annabelle a modern retelling of a film first thought of years ago, pre-dating world war II even. now set in an all-girl Catholic boarding school in modern-day North California, the movie features young poetry teacher Simone Bradley (played by Diane Gaidry), who is drawn into the world of rebellious student Annabelle (played by Erin Kelly, who is various shades of hot). initially tasked to discipline Annabelle, a senator’s daughter with a reputation of being a troublemaker, Simone soon finds out that the problem is not Annabelle’s attitude nor is it the possibility of her influencing the other students negatively; rather it’s the attraction between the both of them.

in an afterellen review, i gathered that Simone is 32 and that Annabelle is 17, so that makes their age difference 15 years. and that alone definitely makes me go hmmm, and then inevitably recall that one time (at band camp haha — can’t resist) a reading of my zodiac revealed that my ideal partner as a capricorn is one who wielded power, and could possibly be a superior, or boss at work, which at the moment scares me. haha. anyway.

do i make you nervous?

as expected, Simone tries to resist Annabelle’s advances — yes, you got that right, this 17-year-old student does try to make a move on her poetry teacher. seriously. in one little scene, Annabelle comes to Simone’s dorm room (i haven’t mentioned she was also in charge of the girls’ dorm) one night and takes notice of Simone’s habit of playing with her cross necklace, and when Simone dismisses her action as just “a nervous habit”, Annabelle goes in for the kill: “Do I make you nervous?” the line prompts me to laugh out loud and think, wow where did this 17-year-old get her guts — and lines?

which leads us to Annabelle. Annabelle’s character is interesting — senator’s (taken for granted) daughter in want of affection, a smoker, song-writer musician who is hard and tough on the outside with her buddha beads and piercings, but actually very affectionate in the inside. seriously. i couldn’t help but smirk at her rather different (read: sexually charged) readings of the poetry they discuss in class and her intelligent, snarky remarks that always prompted Simone to ask Annabelle to stay behind after class for a little discussion on “toning down” and making class remarks a bit more “appropriate.” (nice strategy, if you ask me.)

for her part, Simone does try her best to stay away — she is, after all, in a relationship with a guy named Michael (with whom she’s been having extraordinary difficulty settling down with, perennially dodging the issue of moving in together.) however, all efforts at avoiding Annabelle (as well) are defeated once the Headmistress orders Simone to stay with Annabelle at the dorms throughout spring break, even as all the other students are set to go home.

i will not let you go

granted this window of opportunity, Annabelle unearths a significant detail about Simone’s past, as she herself reveals a few of her own. the beach scenes are just… *sigh* plus, falling asleep together fully clothed? just kills me.

the pretty cinematography especially in this part of the movie really brought out erin kelly’s hotness beauty. seriously. plus, Simone as a photographer! i’ve always believed photographs taken by people in love with their subject tend to have those extra-pretty points you couldn’t get elsewhere.

anyway. possibly sensing her attractions raring to go uncontrolled, Simone stops speaking to Annabelle, whom upon noticing, confronts her teacher about it. To which Simone only replies, “I can’t do this.”

all over me

in a total redefinition of what happens at prom, things escalate between Simone and Annabelle at the end-of-year ball, and, well, you just have to see the movie to see the scene itself. *smirk*

of course, the all-too-brief morning-after scene quickly shifts toward the denouement (don’t people lock their doors anymore? jeez) and then to the all-too-heartbreaking ending i have really yet to recover from.

don’t look back

“Loving Annabelle” is fascinating because the story itself has several layers that contribute to its complexity — whichever way you look at it, the relationship just can’t be, as both their differences and similarities conspire against them. whether it’s their difference in age (15 years), or in stature (teacher-student), or their only similarity, which is gender — everything is just complicated, my head hurt just thinking how the hell they could ever manage to get the relationship up and running in the first place.

but then, simone summarizes it perfectly clear in the end: “I do not expect you to understand. I love her.”

i guess, we all need perspective jolts like that every now and then.

of course, the inevitable assessment of my high school life did come up at one point as i was thinking of writing this review — i may not have been schooled at an exclusive girls high school (unlike someone i know), but i was a catholic school girl once, and the movie did make me wonder if my attachment to a few of my female high school instructors was, in some way, some kind of manifestation of my preference that only surfaced halfway into college.

i don’t know, up to now i’ve maintained that those four years had been devoted entirely to coping with my mother’s death early on, and i’d attributed my closeness to my literature professors to a kind of mommy-issue i optimistically prefer to think i had already grown out of.

or maybe not? for all i know i may have already been establishing, at 14, a certain preference for female literary geniuses who are just a little too sadist with their weekly homeworks. *wince*

i did not just say that, did i.