Starring: Laila Boonyasak, Sukrit Wisetkaew, Sukollawat Kanarot
Director: Nithiwat Tharathorn
Running Time: 110 mins
The Teacher’s Diary is a Thai film about a two teachers working in a small school in a rural water village, facing the same experiences as each other, albeit a year apart, with the diary of the previous teacher to work there providing the connection between them.
Even though it’s not the world’s greatest cinematic work, I still enjoyed The Teacher’s Diary. A simple, engaging and often emotional watch that’s full of heart, as well as a sweet story that you’ll surely love. Unfortunately, what it has in pleasant drama it doesn’t quite have in genuine depth, meaning that the film is never quite the enthralling piece it aims to be, but it’s still an enjoyable watch right the way through.
Above all, what I really liked about this film was the setting. Taking place on a floating school in the middle of a picturesque lake, the film tells of young children in an extremely rural area receiving an education from two city-dwelling teachers.
At first, that opens the door for some beautiful scenery, and along with the serene nature of the setting, the film has a delightful elegance that pervades throughout. Secondly, however, the location plays a great role in two of the film’s major plots, one being the emotion that the male teacher feels when he’s left alone in this isolated school, and the other being that of the local children’s time with him, making the film more than just a pretty face.
First off, this isn’t a full-blown romantic drama, but the central story focuses on the male teacher reading the diary of the woman who worked before him, and as such developing a strong connection to her. I really liked the non-linear structure to this part of the story, switching between each teacher’s time in charge at the school, and developing their on-screen relationship by showing their shared experiences, doing away with any overly cheesy dialogue scenes.
And the way that the setting plays into this is that the pair of them – both being from the city – begin to feel extremely lonely and isolated at times while at the school, further compounded by their initial difficulties in both teaching and looking after their small class. In that, there’s a very natural and believable emotional connection righ away between the pair of them, and as a result, I was fully convinced by the bond between them throughout, with the film impressively managing to steer the premise away from ever becoming too cheesy.
Away from the ‘romance’, and this film also has another story that’s fairly heartwarming and enjoyable. Given that the school is in such a rural area, there are only a handful of students in the class, ranging from all different age groups. As such, the teaching they receive isn’t as orthodox as a normal city school, and we see the teachers become strongly attached to their pupils over the course of their tenure, turning into more of a tightly-knit family than simple teachers and students.
It’s also good to see how this film emphasises the need for education, and the fact that even children from areas as isolated as this can grow and be successful like anyone else. It’s a delightful central message that works brilliantly throughout, and in tandem with the wonderful relationship that the kids and the teachers strike up together, it really does give you a great show of the value of education for everyone.
Now, those are all of the film’s strong points, but even though I did enjoy The Teacher’s Diary, I can’t say it’s a perfect piece. Above all, it’s a sweet and heartwarming film, but not one that will make you fall head over heels in love, or leave you smiling ear to ear.
That’s largely due to the fact that there isn’t the individual character depth to really captivate your emotions, but rather more focus on all the characters as one. That still makes for a strong story with some good emotion, however I wanted to see a little bit more about where some of the characters, particularly our lead duo, have come from.
It’s a small fix, but I felt that just a little more character depth could have gone a long way to making this film an emotionally powerful watch, rather than one that’s just a little bit sweet.
Overall, however, I liked The Teacher’s Diary. With a lot of heart and a sweet story, it’s an engaging and enjoyable watch throughout, taking a cheesy premise and making it work convincingly and entertainingly, even if it doesn’t quite have the depth to pull you in just that little bit more, which is why I’m giving it a 7.4.