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Film / Cracks

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Cracks is an independent drama film starring Eva Green, Juno Temple, María Valverde, and Imogen Poots, which was released theatrically on December 4, 2009. It is based on the novel of the same name by Sheila Kohler.

Set in the 1930's, the story centers on a group of girls at an elite British boarding school and their beautiful, enigmatic diving instructor. Di Radfield (Juno Temple), the leader of the group, has feelings for Miss G (Eva Green). When her place as Miss G's favorite is threatened by the arrival of a beautiful Spanish (Italian in the novel) girl called Fiamma (María Valverde) she becomes increasingly jealous. Meanwhile, Miss G tries everything she can to impress the newcomer. Fiamma however is not taken in by Miss G and becomes increasingly disturbed by her. Miss G's obsession with Fiamma grows and Fiamma, ostracized by the other girls due to Di's jealousy, just wants to go home.

Tropes observed in the movie:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: with a side of Dies Differently in Adaptation in that who is responsible for the death of Fiamma differs between the book and the film, with the book's ending being a reveal of the entire swim team being responsible in an Everybody Did It Murder by Mistake example while the film has Miss G as the sole murderer in a Murder by Inaction.
  • Adaptational Heroism and Adaptational Villainy: The swim team has the first, sort of, and Miss G has the second due to the above mentioned Adaptational Alternate Ending. In the film, they savagely beat Fiamma and induce an asthma attack, but they don't kill her and seem to genuinely be terrified of what they have done. When they realize that Miss G left Fiamma to die, they are outraged and reject her. In the book, they murder Fiamma by shoving sticks and flower stems into her orifices, causing her death by suffocation when they basically pile on her in hysteria in a scene meant to evoke Simon's death in Lord of the Flies. Then they hide the body, and go on with their lives.
  • Adaptational Location Change: The film was based a book that was originally set in South Africa with the bulk of the action taking place in the 1960s with modern day segments (that is, 1990s as the book was published in 1999) occasionally interspersed throughout. The film changes the setting to 1930s Great Britain.
  • All Take and No Give: This is how Miss G sees her relationship with Fiamma, completely disregarding the fact that Fiamma never wanted any of the attention and things Miss G keeps giving her.
  • Asthma Peril: The swim team attacks Fiamma, causing her to have an asthma attack. Miss G then enforces it by leaving Fiamma to die of her asthma attack to ensure that she can't report anybody for what they'd done (the swim team's attack or the fact that Miss G had molested Fiamma).
  • Boarding School: The movie is set in a British boarding school for girls.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: The girls bully Fiamma to the point where she runs away, Miss G rapes Fiamma, then allows her to die, and the headmistress turns a blind eye to preserve the school's reputation.
  • Brainy Brunette: Fiamma and Miss G are both intelligent and well-read.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: Miss G authorizes a party for her students with alcohol. Fiamma gets drunk and Miss G takes her back to her room and molests her.
  • Continuity Nod: When Miss G is exiled to a drab little room in the village, she places exactly five personal items on her bedside table, as per the school rule Di mentions to Fiamma early in the story.
  • Costume Porn: Miss G and Fiamma wear gorgeous and very fashionable clothes, which makes them stand out (among the teachers for Miss G and the students for Fiamma).
  • Creepy Gym Coach: Miss G is implied to have a less than healthy interest in her diving students, having already taken them for midnight Skinny Dipping, with her attraction to newcomer Fiamma in particular becoming more explicit throughout the film. Miss G eventually sexually abuses Fiamma while the latter is unconscious.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: See the entries for Adaptational Alternate Ending and Adaptational Heroism and Adaptational Villainy.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female: Averted. Miss G's molestation of Fiamma is not glamorized or shown as sexy and Fiamma is visibly traumatized the next day.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: A passed out Fiamma is molested by Miss G, who, in her delusion, sees the moment as rather romantic instead of abusive and predatory.
  • Fish out of Water:
    • Fiamma, when she arrives at the school. She is unaccustomed to the weather, the seemingly arbitrary rules, and to living in close confines with other girls.
    • Miss G becomes one whenever she leaves the school, possibly because of her mental condition.
  • Foreshadowing: Miss G tells the girls during one of their classes that desire is the most important thing in the world, and that you can achieve everything you want by desiring it enough. This seemingly inspirational philosophy receives sinister undertones toward the end of the film, as Miss G tries to apply it to her predatory wooing of Fiamma.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason why Miss G manipulates the swim team into attacking Fiamma and ultimately why she lets the poor girl suffocate to death. She knew it was just a matter of time until her victim would speak to the other adults about what she had done to her.
  • I Am One of Those, Too: Miss G pretending to be a well-traveled Lady of Adventure to impress her students hits a snag when Fiamma, who is actually well-traveled, joins the school.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: After it's revealed that Miss G molested Fiamma and let her die of an asthma attack, the diving team rip off their red sashes and throw them at her feet.
  • Karma Houdini: Somewhat averted. Miss G doesn't get sent to prison but she does lose the affection of the girls on her team, her job and the place that has been a home to her since she was a girl herself.
  • Lady of Adventure: Miss G pretends to be one to impress her students. Fiamma actually is one.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • Miss G. Despite having clearly never gone much further than the village she manages to convince the whole diving team that she's an experienced traveler. Well at least until Fiamma comes along, who is really a seasoned traveler and recognizes her lies.
    • She also steals several postcards intended for Fiamma and keeps them in her room, possibly to make the girl feel forgotten and isolated and thus more vulnerable to her attentions.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Fiamma means "flame" in Italian, a reference to how she ends up being Miss G's flame. Her family name, Corona, means "crown," a reference to her aristocratic background.
    • Di's full name is Diana, a reference to the Roman goddess of the hunt, who surrounded herself exclusively by maidens and wished to remain a virgin.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Mostly averted apart from a brief shot of Toplessness from the Back with Sideboob of Miss G during the Skinny Dipping scene as she surfaces from the water.
  • Murder by Inaction: Miss G calmly watches Fiamma die in the forest, refusing to give her inhaler while Fiamma has an asthma attack. Di witnessing this is what finally makes her turn on Miss G.
  • Nerdy Inhaler: Averted. Fiamma needs an inhaler but she's probably the most socially well-adjusted character in the movie.
  • Never Found the Body: In the book, the girls hid Fiamma's body in Sir George Harrow's marble tomb. Nobody thinks to look in the old grave when Fiamma disappears from the school, and it's only some decades later that the extra body is discovered in the grave when the grave is dug up due to unrelated matters regarding land developers and a potential school shutdown.
  • Phony Degree: Mildly. It's revealed that the diving team has never competed against another school (likely due to Miss G's hidden agoraphobia).
  • Psycho Lesbian: Miss G, to the point of actually raping Fiamma when she's drunk.
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Miss G often acts more like a fellow student than a teacher. While this often makes her a Cool Teacher, it leads to a lot of destructive behavior that she doesn't seem to think is that bad. For example, she seems to think her attraction to Fiamma is a harmless crush, and doesn't quite seem to understand why Fiamma has a problem with this.
  • Pull the Thread: After Spotting the Thread, Fiamma, who is actually a seasoned traveler, starts asking Miss G more specific questions about her travels that she can't answer.
  • Shout-Out: The book, at least, takes cues from and can be considered a Distaff Counterpart to Lord of the Flies, most evident in the scene of Fiamma's death, where she's killed in a frenzy of hysteria that mirrors Simon's death in Lord of The Flies.
  • Skinny Dipping: One of the more disturbing scenes early in the movie involves Miss G waking the girls up late at night and taking them skinny dipping.
  • Slut-Shaming: Di refuses to believe Miss G did anything wrong with Fiamma at first. Rather, she accuses Fiamma of being a slut who seduced Miss G. This leads to her and the other girls attacking Fiamma.
  • Smug Snake: Miss G. For all her airs of worldliness and poetic musings, she falls apart fairly quickly once Fiamma, who is well-traveled and well-read, realizes that her stories of adventure are lies. Miss G's attempt at making Fiamma more vulnerable by stealing her mail also backfires spectacularly when she foolishly leaves the postcards in a visible place in her room, where the girls often visit. Fiamma finds them and is upset at the theft, leading her to further dislike the thief.
  • Spotting the Thread: Fiamma realizes that Miss G's stories of travel and adventure are fake when she steals a quote from a story she knows.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Fiamma was sent to a remote boarding school because of her relationship with Pablo, an older man of very modest means.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Di has a crush on Miss G and Miss G is attracted to Fiamma.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: The diving team's reaction when they realize Miss G raped Fiamma and allowed her to die.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Miss G for most of the movie. She's a seriously disturbed woman capable of terrible things, but the girls and the school have no idea until it's too late.

"The most important thing in life is desire"