Adrien Brody, Marcia Gay Harden, Lucy Liu

Directed by Tony Kaye
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3
Community: star rating
5 3 0
March 15, 2012

Adrien Brody deserves superlatives for his acting in the alternately mesmerizing and maddening Detachment. Playing Henry Barthes, a high school substitute teacher trying to shield himself from the toxicity of the public-school system, Brody meets every challenge in a demanding role.

Carl Lund's screenplay brims over with people on the edge. Principal Carol Dearden (an outstanding Marcia Gay Harden) is badgered by officials who see her school simply as real estate. As a guidance counselor (a vivid Lucy Liu) and a teacher (Tim Blake Nelson) near meltdown, Henry wrestles with his own issues: a dying grandfather (Louis Zorich) and a teen prostitute (Sami Gayle) he offers to shelter. Like an overweight student (Betty Kaye, daughter of the director, Tony Kaye) unable to cope with abuse, Henry wants to run away.

It's a pileup of horrors, and director Kaye does little to lighten the burden. You remember Kaye? He's the former advertising legend who directed the killer-good American History X and then begged to have his name axed from the credits. He's the guy who bought ads to declare himself the "greatest English director since Hitchcock" and was known to dress up as Osama bin Laden. The thing is, Kaye is an enormous talent. And Detachment proves it, even with the overload of tricks that take us out of the story with animation, documentary-type interviews with teachers, and literary references that are both potent and posturing. Yet with Brody at the eye of the storm, Detachment gets to you. It hits hard.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Bleeding Love”

    Leona Lewis | 2007

    In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

    More Song Stories entries »