One Eight Seven

When schools become war zones and both sides start taking casualties, what then?

Drama Thriller
119 min     6.624     1997     USA


After surviving a stabbing by a student, teacher Trevor Garfield moves from New York to Los Angeles. There, he resumes teaching as a substitute teacher. The education system, where violent bullies control the classrooms and the administration is afraid of lawsuits, slowly drives Garfield mad.


CinemaSerf wrote:
This features a strong effort from Samuel L. Jackson but is really quite a depressing film to watch. He is "Garfield" - a teacher who survived a vicious knife attack at his previous school in New York, but who is still determined to persevere and so moves to another in Los Angeles. The teenage kids there are a pretty disparate bunch, not really interested in education and certainly not interested in authority. Except, maybe, "Rita" (Karina Arroyave) who wants to succeed despite the pressures from her peers. From the outset, "Garfield" has a challenger in the young "Cesar" (Clifton Collins Jr) and most of the film is spent teeing up the ultimate denouement between the two men, in what is really a rather unfulfilling fashion. Kevin Reynolds provides us here with a pretty savage indictment of an education system that could hardly be more indifferent to the needs of it's staff or it's students. Indeed the state of the buildings, the safety of just about everyone and the attitudes of the students seems to be wrapped in a self-perpetuating film of neglect and fear of law suits. Jackson presents us with a measured performance, but his character is a bit sterile. The sub-plot with his fearful colleague "Ellen" (Kelly Rowan) tries to inject a little humanity, but even that cannot penetrate the otherwise dark, gloomy and bleak storyline that may well be based in truth (it was written by a schoolteacher) but makes for a curiously downbeat and unmemorable piece of drama.