But the editing, music, and design of the film suggest something completely different: that these two people are simply having an innocent love affair. She finally exposes him for what he is, and he is fired from his teaching position, giving her vindication and the audience a little relief.
That they get back together afterwards is either honest and daring, or morally disgraceful.
It tells the story of a student teacher at a junior high who is pursued relentlessly and inappropriately by her superior, one of the school’s teachers.
His advances are blatant, despicable, and culminate in a disturbing rape scene the characters in the film seem to forget immediately afterwards.
This is where the “tension” between the “director’s personality” and his “material” comes in: after the rape, the interactions between the characters are depicted in a meet-cute romance movie montage, and they begin a sort of love affair.
When that style helped expose a theme or message that was at odds with or otherwise unexplored in the screenplay, Sarris considered it a triumph of the director.
But what of the situations in which film/screenplay tension is present, but the movie’s script was written by its director?