Detachment (film)

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Detachment poster.jpg
Directed by Tony Kaye
Produced by Greg Shapiro
Carl Lund
Bingo Gubelmann
Austin Stark
Benji Kohn
Chris Papavasiliou
Written by Carl Lund
Starring Adrien Brody
Marcia Gay Harden
Christina Hendricks
William Petersen
Bryan Cranston
Tim Blake Nelson
Betty Kaye
Sami Gayle
Lucy Liu
Blythe Danner
James Caan
Music by The Newton Brothers
Cinematography Tony Kaye
Edited by Barry Alexander Brown
Geoffrey Richman
Distributed by Tribeca Film
Release dates
  • April 25, 2011 (2011-04-25) (Tribeca)
  • February 2012 (2012-02) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,481,646[1]

Detachment is a 2011 American drama film about the high school education system directed by Tony Kaye, starring Adrien Brody with an ensemble supporting cast.


Detachment is a chronicle of one month in the lives of several high school teachers, administrators and students through the eyes of a substitute teacher named Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody). Barthes' method of imparting vital knowledge to his temporary students is interrupted by the arrival of three women in his life — the damaged and naive prostitute Erica (Sami Gayle), a fellow teacher (Christina Hendricks) and a troubled teen named Meredith (Betty Kaye). These women all have profound effects on Barthes' life, forcing him to both re-discover aspects of his own personality, and to come to terms with both the tragic suicide of his mother and the impending death of his grandfather. The film is punctuated with flashbacks of scenes of Barthes' young childhood and his mother's suicide.

Sub-plots include the struggles of Dr. Parker (Lucy Liu) within her role as the school counselor and the painful torment of Principal Dearden (Marcia Gay Harden), who faces her dismissal as head of this deeply flawed school.



Detachment premiered on April 25, 2011, at the Tribeca Film Festival.[2] Pretty Pictures acquired rights to distribute the film in France.[3] In September 2011, Tribeca Film acquired U.S. distribution rights with Celluloid Dreams repping worldwide sales rights.[4] Territories sold include Benelux (Wild Bunch), Italy (UBU), Middle East (Shooting Stars), Russia (CP Digital), Latin America (California), India (Pictureworks), Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam (PT Parkit) and Taiwan (Cineplex).[5]

On September 9, 2011, Detachment screened in competition at the 37th Deauville American Film Festival in France.[6] It won both the Revelations Prize and the International Critics' Award.[7] On September 18, Detachment was announced as the Closing Night Film at the Woodstock Film Festival, where Kaye was the recipient of the Honorary Maverick Award.[8]

On October 12, 2011, Detachment screened in competition at the Valenciennes International Festival of Action and Adventure Films in Japan, where it won the Grand Prize and the Audience Award.[9] Later, on October 26, the film screened in competition at the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival.[10] It received the award for Best Artistic Contribution, sharing honors with the film Kora.[11]

Detachment also screened in competition at the 35th São Paulo International Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Foreign Language Film, sharing honors with Chicken with Plums.[12] On November 16, Detachment screened at the 53rd Muestra Internacional de Cine in Mexico.[13]

In January 2012, Detachment won Best Picture at the Ramdam Film Festival in Tournai, Belgium.

Critical reception[edit]

A reviewer for Student Handouts, which reviews books and films for those working in education, said: "It easily makes Dangerous Minds look like a pandering Lifetime made-for-TV movie."[14]

Peter Travers from Rolling Stone awarded the film three out of four stars, praising the performances of Adrien Brody, Marcia Gay Harden and Lucy Liu. "Detachment gets to you. It hits hard", he wrote.[15]

In March 2012, actor Bryan Cranston was asked about Detachment during an interview. The reporter told Cranston he loved the movie and then started to ask his question. "Wait", Cranston said, "did you like Detachment?". The reporter said again that he loved it, and Cranston seemed surprised. "I haven't seen it", Cranston told the assembled press. "I'm surprised to hear that actually". When asked to clarify, he continued, "Because I felt that Carl Lund, the writer of Detachment, wrote a really beautiful, haunting script. And I didn't feel that it was honored. I was upset with that. I really was. And so I didn't see the movie". He sighed, resigned and continued, after searching for the right way to phrase himself: "Tony Kaye is a very complicated... interesting fellow. I don't believe that I'll be working with him again. I didn't not get along with him on a personal level. But I just honor the writing. I really think that writing is the most important element there is. It is the springboard. It is where everything starts. And if you don't honor that – which I didn't feel it was – then where are you? And I'm not the only actor on that film to feel that way."[16]

Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 57% rotten rating with an audience score of 74%.


Filming took place in Mineola Middle School and Mineola High School on Long Island, New York.


  1. ^ Detachment (2012). Box Office Mojo (May 3, 2012). Retrieved on April 24, 2014.
  2. ^ Gordon, Cox (April 4, 2011). "'Detachment', Rocker Doc Join Tribeca". Variety.
  3. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (April 29, 2011) "Pretty Pictures takes French Rights to Detachment". Screen International.
  4. ^ Fernandez, Jay (September 8, 2011) "Tribeca Films Picks Up Tony Kaye's Detachment for U.S." The Hollywood Reporter.
  5. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (November 4, 2011) "Buyers attached to Celluloid Dreams' Detachment". Screen International.
  6. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (August 17, 2011) "Deauville Sets Competition". Variety.
  7. ^ Leffler, Rebecca (September 10, 2011) "Take Shelter Wins Grand Prize". The Hollywood Reporter.
  8. ^ Cox, Gordon (September 20, 2011) "Detachment Closes Woodstock". Variety.
  9. ^ (October 16, 2011) "Detachment Double Crown in Valenciennes" La Voix Du Nord.
  10. ^ Schilling, Mark (September 21, 2011) "'Detachment' joins Tokyo fest lineup". Variety.
  11. ^ Schilling, Mark (October 30, 2011) "'Untouchable' Wins Tokyo Grand Prix". Variety.
  12. ^ (November 3, 2011) "35 Mostra Internacional de Cinema".
  13. ^ Gijon, Bernardo (November 3, 2011) "53 International Film Festival" El Punto Critico.
  14. ^ Detachment (2012) – Movie Review for Parents and Teachers. Student Handouts (March 16, 2012). Retrieved on April 24, 2014.
  15. ^ Detachment | Movie Reviews. Rolling Stone (March 15, 2012). Retrieved on April 24, 2014.
  16. ^ Sepinwall, Alan. (March 23, 2012) Bryan Cranston talks about on-set turbulence with Detachment director Tony Kaye. Retrieved on April 24, 2014.

External links[edit]