With a strong cast and capable director (Mike Newell), one might expect great things from this drama set in a 1950s all-women’s college. Prepare to be letdown because this sucker is flat, flat, flat. Julia Roberts is boring as a bohemian art teacher who seems just mildly annoyed by the school’s prehistoric ways, and her supporting cast seems equally tired. Much of the blame can go to the script, which borrows the most non-compelling elements of films such as Dead Poets Society
and School Ties
. The film tries to be a bold statement on the emergence of feminism but is instead a droll statement on just how dull an all-women’s college in the ’50s could be. The talents of Kirsten Dunst and Maggie Gyllenhaal are wasted, and Julia Stiles makes one wonder if she ever really had any talent at all.