Dir: Craig Zisk. US. 2013. 93mins

The English Teacher

Independent American dramedy The English Teacher may cover some familiar comic terrain but it does so with a fair amount of warmth and charm, qualities that are enhanced by a cast featuring Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear and Nathan Lane. Probably too slight to make much of a mark in cinemas it could still find an audience of quirky comedy appreciators through in-home distribution. 

Moore is terrific as the tightly wound Linda and Kinnear is a perfectly pragmatic foil.

Joint US distributors Cinedigm and Tribeca Film have already made the film - which premiered at last month’s Tribeca festival - available on VOD platforms in the States. And they are planning a May 17 limited theatrical release, putting the film up as counter programming to some of the early summer blockbusters.

In the second of her five scheduled 2013 releases, Moore plays Linda, a single, 40-year-old teacher who is apparently happy with a quiet, controlled life devoted to great literature and her students.

Things change when former star pupil and struggling playwright Jason (Haywire’s Michael Angarano) returns to town. Linda enlists school drama teacher Carl (stage stalwart Lane) to help her kickstart Jason’s career. But a romantic outburst puts her in conflict with Jason’s overbearing father (the equally busy Kinnear) and a sexy student (UK-born Lily Collins, from Mirror Mirror).

Director Craig Zisk, known for such delicately paced TV series as Weeds and Parks And Recreation, keeps the tone breezy. But it’s the cast that finds the telling moments in this tale of real life versus fantasy. Moore is terrific as the tightly wound Linda and Kinnear is a perfectly pragmatic foil. Lane provides the broad laughs in his those-who-can’t-teach role.

Production companies: Artina Films, JSC Entertainment, Media House Capital, Aloris Entertainment, Spring Pictures

US distribution: Cinedigm/Tribeca Film 

International sales: Myriad Pictures, www.myriadpictures.com

Producers: Naomi Despres, Bob Salerno, Ben LeClair, Matthew Chausse

Executive producers: Ron Curtis, Michael Bederman, John Santilli, Mandy Tagger, Adi Ezroni

Screenplay: Dan Chariton & Stacy Chariton

Cinematography: Vanja Cernjul

Production designer: Michael Shaw

Editor: Myron Kerstein

Music: Rob Simonson

Main cast: Julianne Moore, Michael Angarano, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, Nathan Lane