November 11, 2010

Cracks (2009)

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I'm going to make a confession: I have a major girl crush on Eva Green. What is it about French women that makes you just stop in your tracks, turn your head and just stare? and Marion Cotillard! Mélanie Laurent! I am loving the current crop of French actresses gracing our screens these days! And to be honest, I would've never even heard of the movie Cracks had I not have been watching an interview with Eva Green describing her attempts to master an English accent for a new role set at a secluded all-girls boarding school in the 1930s. My interest immediately piqued: 1930s? boarding-school? What is this movie?! I MUST SEE IT.

The film Cracks was actually inspired by a book of the same name by Sheila Kohler. The original story was set in South Africa instead of England and correct me if I'm wrong ('cos I haven't read the book), not during the 1930s. I'm not sure why the filmmakers decided to totally change the setting and time period of the story - perhaps to make it more visually interesting? - but I'm really glad they did because the styling of this film was absolutely gorgeous!



And then even though it was supposed to be set in England, much of the film was actually shot in Ireland.  According to sources, two real-life fully functioning schools were used for many of the exterior and interior scenes: St. Columba's College in Dublin and the Headfort School in Kells. Having visited Ireland myself, I cannot begin to tell you how much these images make me miss the lush, green countryside of the UK.

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I love everything that these girls are wearing. And I love especially the pairing of a yellow scarf against a brown tweed coat (notice the interior lining of the coat is a muted orange - awesome!).
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Eva Green plays the spirited Miss G - a beautiful young teacher who comes off as the embodiment of courage, passion, and adventure. She regales her pupils with thrilling tales of her romances with heroic explorers and escapades to exotic far away lands - and they soak it all up with open ears and eager hearts. The girls love Miss G. They adore her to bits. She is the woman they all want to grow up to be and she takes great pride in encouraging them to take hold of their lives and reach for the stars. (heck, I'd want to be Miss G too, if only just to look like Eva Green!)

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I love the metallic shell-patterned top and the long chain necklace worn with high-waisted trousers.
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The production was helmed by designer Ben Scott, art direction by Bill Crutcher (Bleak House, Nanny McPhee Returns), and costumes by Alison Byrne. The key hair stylist was Orla Carrol, who was also part of the hairdressing team on Evita (1996) - yes, that one with Madonna.

Starring aside Eva Green were her high-waisted wide-leg trousers - much to my delight! As someone who wears pants 99% of the time, I have to proclaim that the late 1930s is by far my absolute favorite decade in terms of wearable fashion inspiration (think Marlene Dietrich, Amelia Earhart). There is just something very assertive, very "modern" about trousers that I simply love. Pair with it a pretty blouse or a shiny accessory, such as a colorful scarf or headband or jewelry, and you have all the trappings of a flirty feminine outfit underscored by a feisty masculine edge.

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I'll take one of the gorgeous teal tops with the scalloped sleeves, please!
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Eva Green makes headscarves look so chic. I'm afraid I'd just end up looking like a misplaced hippie.
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Not sure if I can pull off the bright floral blouse but I love the black and white top-trouser combination. White trousers should be worn more often, me thinks...
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I like her make-up here...especially that shade of lipstick with the orange undertones.
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You can't really see the detail in this shot but those are some fierce white ankle boots she's sportin'.
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Great striped jacket.
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Things are all well and good until the sudden arrival of a new student from Spain. The daughter of high ranking aristocrats, Fiamma was sent off to this isolated English boarding school when her parents discovered  that she was having a "scandalous" affair with a boy from an inferior class.

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Is it just me or does she look like a young Isabella Rossellini here?
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It didn't take long for the well-traveled, cultured Fiamma to challenge the sophistication of Miss G and incite tension with the rest of the girls. I don't want to give any more away so I'm going to stop here with the plot summary.

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Oh, by the way, this is Miss G's room. Isn't it just marvelous?
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The story was a simple, straight-forward one but I really enjoyed it and thought Eva Green (as well as the rest of the cast) gave a great performance. Go dig it up - I highly recommend it!

Here Miss G is clearly unraveled by the something Fiamma did (won't tell you what!) but let's focus on her gorgeous silk robe instead, shall we?
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Even though Miss G wore trousers most of the time, she was also frequently seen in dresses. Here are some of them:

See, it is possible for an outfit to cover up practically every inch of your body and still be sexy. This gray tweed dress is amazing.
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cute hat.
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She looks a tad bit like Catherine Zeta-Jones here in this red dress.
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This black dress is by far my favorite of hers.
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I was racking my brain for more films set in girls' boarding schools and the only one that really stood out to me that could compare with this one is maybe The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), starring Maggie Smith. The Children's Hour (1961) starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine also comes to mind. I find it interesting how there are so many movies about boys' boarding schools (I can name half a dozen off the top of my head immediately) but for some reason, there aren't nearly as many for girls. As someone who went to a public secondary school, I'm totally fascinated by the boarding school experience that I never had and would watch any movie set in one. Even horror films like Suspiria (1977). That said, if any you have recommendations for other girls' boarding school flicks, I'd love to hear them! :D

Not lookin' too good here, Miss G, but your trench is rockin'.
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9 comments:

Wonderful costume design, that gray dress is lovely! This movie looks great, I'm waiting for Netflix to make it available (soon I hope!)

Picnic at Hanging Rock: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073540/

Miss Jess - Hope you enjoy it!

Cristina - Thanks for the recommendation! I actually own Picnic at Hanging Rock...haha! Friend gave it to me a long time ago. Now I must watch it!

I think the Weimar-era Mädchen in Uniform (1931) is the grandmother of all girls' boarding school movies, and thematically has a lot in common with Cracks.

Also, great post! This movie definitely had me inspired for months after viewing.

@Juliana - Oooh, I haven't heard of "Mädchen in Uniform"- thank you so much for the suggestion! Must go find it now...

St. Trinian's! It's more silly than anything, but if you're watching for the fun of a girls boarding school, it's a good time.

I don't think they've made a movie out of it, but you might like the book "Prep" by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Exactly the blog post I was looking for. Thank you for sharing my excitement over the amazing costume work done for the film.

I'm so happy I found this. Absolutely LOVE this movie to death. Intriguing concept. I adore the fashion in this film and the scenery. Eva can clearly pull off any look from any decade. Such an awesome production. I wish it got more credit, it sure a hell deserves it.

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