Saturday, 10 June 2017

My Tutor (5 Stars)

Five stars? Yes. It will probably surprise or even shock my readers to hear that this is one of my favourite films. It's a coming-of-age comedy. Sometimes the definition of coming-of-age is widened to include many different types of films, but my personal definition is that it only refers to films about a teenager losing his or her virginity. In most cases his, because it's easier to make fun of male virgins.

Bobby Chrystal has just finished high school. After the summer holidays he should be going to Yale to study law. The problem is that he has failed his French exam abysmally. His father, a wealthy Yale graduate who somehow has influence on the university, has persuaded the university to keep his place open, but only on condition that he retakes the exam and scores at least 85%.

Bobby's father hires a French tutor to prepare him for the new exam at the end of the holidays. The studying takes time away from his most important goal: he wants to lose his virginity. Both he and his best friend Jack have just finished high school and are still virgins. Statistically, that makes them late starters, because most teenagers lose their virginity while they're still at school. Jack's older brother Billy claims to be a man of the world and takes them out to places where they can become men, but things never work out as planned.

This is complicated by the fact that Bobby begins to feel attracted to Terry, his French tutor, even though she's much, much older than him. She's 29!

What I like about the film is its unstated but blatantly hinted representation of the gender roles that Bobby has to struggle against. As in Russ Meyer's films, "My Tutor" shows women as intelligent and sexually aggressive, whereas the men are stupid and intimidated by female sexuality. The opening scene shows Bobby taking his French exam. One by one the girls finish the exam and walk out early, while the boys are left behind struggling to finish. As the girls walk past Bobby remembers that he's seen them dancing, and however much he tries to concentrate on the exam he sees them gyrating seductively. It's as if their dance was for him, to reduce him to a horny, incapable boy.

In the same way, Terry flaunts herself when they're together. She wears a thin, almost sheer bikini during the French lessons, pretending to be oblivious to the fact that Bobby can't take her eyes off her body.

There are also aspects of female domination, but I'll go into them more the next time I review the film. Maybe I'll build my next review around a photo gallery. There will be a next time. I'm shocked to see that I haven't watched "My Tutor" for more than six years. Shame on me!

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