• Charlie Vogelsang

The English Teacher (2020) Review

Written, directed and starring Blake Ridder, The English Teacher tells the story of an unconventional relationship between a teacher and his pupil.

Who would’ve thought that a relationship between a private English teacher and a student could be so complicated? Written, directed and edited by Blake Ridder, The English Teacher follows a man called Robert, played by Louis James, who lives a miserable life - but ends up being revitalised by a new student called Jin, played by Ridder.

The English Teacher begins with a close up shot of a woman’s legs riding a bike, and then promptly cuts to Robert being awakened by his phone alarm. As he checks his phone, you can immediately tell that this man is depressed. From the empty look in his eyes to his lack of composure. Robert is a man with no care left in life.

Enter new student Jin who completely changes his life. Throughout the film, we see them interact as Robert begins teaching Jin English. It’s sweet and engaging to watch as you see his language progress and their bond grow. Robert begins to smile and enjoy life a little more with his new found friend.

Blake Ridder is a director to watch out for

Of course, the harmony has to stop at some point. Naturally, Jin ends up tearfully confessing to accidentally killing Robert’s wife in a driving accident and fleeing the scene in panic. Jin wants to support Robert and redeem himself - but he knows that Robert wouldn’t accept it from the man who killed his wife. Tearfully, Jin confesses to Robert through a video message and the entire character of Robert finally makes sense.

After rushing to speak to Jin in person, he finds that he cannot get in contact. The film ends ambiguously; many questions are left unanswered as the credits roll, but it leaves you thinking about the film long after it ends.

Ridder and James are charming together and their friendly chemistry is so much fun to watch. They are a dynamic pair and you’ll wish The English Teacher is longer so you can watch more.

All the scenes in the film are absolutely stunning with many angled quite stylishly. Each shot containing Jin mirror the shots of Robert, with their retrospective backgrounds conveying their characters' mindsets. Jin’s background is cluttered and full of junk to signify his attempts to hide the truth; Robert’s is a white background because he has nothing to hide. These subtle things compared with the rest of the movie show why Blake Ridder is a director to watch out for.

The only downside to this short film is that it should’ve been feature length - that’s literally it. It’s truly astonishing to see how developed these characters could be in under 13 minutes, it’s so impressive. The English Teacher is a short film that will leave you instantly wanting more of Ridder’s films.


Available to watch for free on YouTube and check out Blake Ridder here.