Oleanna (1994)

Rating: C

Dir: David Mamet
Star: William H.Macy, Debra Eisenstadt

Best not view this after a heavy meal, since it’s so densely verbal as to border on the occasionally indecipherable. Which is perhaps the point, since its subject is an encounter between a college student (Eisenstadt) and her lecturer (Macy), and the diverging ways they interpret the same conversation, differences which leads to sexual harassment charges and a great deal of trouble. The origin as a stage play is obvious in the roles and the locations, or lack thereof — two of the former, and the latter effectively has only the lecturer’s office.

It’s hard to maintain interest watching two people converse for ninety minutes, especially when the dialogue is so mercilessly forced and artificial. The second half does much better than the first, as the power in the relationship abruptly changes sides. It’s the kind of film that seems designed largely to provoke conversation over a cappuccino afterwards; despite offering no real answers of its own, it does ask some interesting questions, and has certainly put me off a career in academia.