Twisty Drama: Our Review of ‘The Lesson’

Posted in Movies by - July 07, 2023
Twisty Drama: Our Review of ‘The Lesson’

Creative writing can be a difficult profession, even for those who do it every day of their lives. While some find it easier than others, everyone at some point in their lives find themselves staring at a blank screen or a blank piece of paper as they try to come up with a unique idea. Many writers are accused of stealing other’s works and ideas, and adapting it as their own. Even some scholars accuse Shakespeare of plagiarizing, and many have copied his ideas and adapted them into something else. In Alice Troughton’s feature directorial debut The Lesson, one of her characters states “good writers borrow, great writers steal”. This ends up being the theme of the entire twisty film.

Liam Sommers (Daryl McCormack) is a writer looking for his first big break, and when an opportunity presents itself to tutor the son of one of his literary idols, J.M. Sinclair (Richard E. Grant), he jumps at it. After all it gives him the chance to get the inside scoop on a man he’s writing his thesis on, while living at their sprawling estate. Unfortunately things aren’t quite as cheerful as he would like. For starters, the family is still recovering from the sudden suicide of their eldest son, something that has split them apart.

J.M. has been unable to complete his latest novel. He worries about how the public views his lack of progress. Bertie (Stephen McMillan) is the son whom Liam is tutoring. He is feeling the pressure of living in the shadow of his big brother while under the scornful eye of his father. Hélène (Julie Delpy) is certain her husband is hiding a shameful secret. And she wants Liam to find out what it is. Liam quickly finds himself stuck in the middle of the family, but it’s a position he doesn’t mind being in because it presents opportunities he otherwise wouldn’t have.

The Lesson is a slow burn movie with hard to like characters. Every character is manipulative and opportunistic, which makes it hard to enjoy the film. You don’t really trust any of them to do the right thing. That being said, the over all plot is intriguing, and you find yourself wanting to know how everything will play out. Things speed up when the twists start appearing, and that’s when the film draws you in.

Grant’s performance shines well above everyone else in the cast too. His performance as a pompous, egotistical writer who thinks he’s better than everyone else needs to be acknowledged. The best thing this film does however is take a beautiful, elegant backdrop, and place dark, bitter characters into it. It smushes together all the bad things about these characters, from their feelings of betrayal and want of revenge, to their acts of plagiarism and lack of personal inspiration. And it creates a compelling story that serves as a warning post for creative types.

The Lesson may not be the type of film everyone will enjoy. But it is one of those films that grows on you the more you think it over. Audiences should watch it with others so they can dissect it afterwards. This way, everyone can properly see the meaning behind it all.

This post was written by
While Roderick has only been writing movie reviews for a relatively short time, he's been a fan of film for as long as he can remember. It's a love affair that started when he saw Star Wars at a drive-in theatre in Kitchener when he was four years old. In the past decade he's fulfilled his dream of interviewing celebrities, attending red carpets events at festivals such as TIFF and writing reviews for outlets such as He's always on the hunt for the next big thing to hit the screen.
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