Detachment (film)

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Detachment poster.jpg
Directed byTony Kaye
Produced byGreg Shapiro
Carl Lund
Bingo Gubelmann
Austin Stark
Benji Kohn
Chris Papavasiliou
Written byCarl Lund
StarringAdrien Brody
Marcia Gay Harden
Christina Hendricks
William Petersen
Bryan Cranston
Tim Blake Nelson
Betty Kaye
Sami Gayle
Lucy Liu
Blythe Danner
James Caan
Music byThe Newton Brothers
CinematographyTony Kaye
Edited byBarry Alexander Brown
Geoffrey Richman
Distributed byTribeca Film
Release date
  • April 25, 2011 (2011-04-25) (Tribeca)
  • February 2012 (2012-02) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
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 . 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, a fellow teacher 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 within her role as the school counselor and the painful torment of Principal Dearden, who faces her dismissal as head of this deeply flawed school.



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

In March 2012, cast member Bryan Cranston was asked about Detachment during an interview. The reporter told Cranston that 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," he 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." Shocked by Cranston's frankness, the reporters pushed him for more on that disagreement. "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." He smiled as he chose his words carefully. "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?" He leaned in as if telling everyone a secret. "And I'm not the only actor on that film to feel that way." [2]

In the same month, director Tony Kaye touched upon the issue in a separate interview. "My agent sent me this fantastic piece of writing by a guy called Carl Lund. A writer. One of the things that I felt was how real it was. And writing is really about research and speech and I thought this guy’s really done his homework. In fact it turned out that he had been a teacher. So then it all became very clear. And then when it really began, if you like, really really began was when Adrien Brody sort of popped up and said I’ll do this. A couple of weeks before we were supposed to start to shoot. And then I decided myself at that point I’m gonna hang the whole thing on you [Brody]. And try to build out your character of Henry much more and make it all everything about you. Just you.” The interviewer then asks Kaye if he rebuilt the script at that point. Kaye responds, “Well I reinterpreted it, yeah. When Carl first wrote it, I believe it was a very vignette ensemble thing." ”Carl's script was very impressionistic, and [a] part of what I do, sometimes, [is] very impressionistic storytelling. I used that to its full, here, to try and make sense of it all....[3] There's more [footage] of Marcia Gay Harden and Bryan Cranston [which] I've got in the hard drives, and I'm hoping to [get] it out, in maybe a longer cut." [4]


Detachment premiered on April 25, 2011, at the Tribeca Film Festival.[5] Pretty Pictures acquired rights to distribute the film in France.[6] In September 2011, Tribeca Film acquired U.S. distribution rights with Celluloid Dreams repping worldwide sales rights.[7] 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).[8]

On September 9, 2011, Detachment screened in competition at the 37th Deauville American Film Festival in France.[9] It won both the Revelations Prize and the International Critics' Award.[10] 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.[11]

On October 12, 2011, Detachment screened in competition at the Valenciennes International Festival of Action and Adventure Films in France, where it won the Grand Prize and the Audience Award.[12] Later, on October 26, the film screened in competition at the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival.[13] It received the award for Best Artistic Contribution, sharing honors with the film Kora.[14]

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.[15] On November 16, Detachment screened at the 53rd Muestra Internacional de Cine in Mexico.[16]

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."[17]

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.[18]

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


  1. ^ Detachment (2012). Box Office Mojo (May 3, 2012). Retrieved on April 24, 2014.
  2. ^ "Bryan Cranston talks about on-set turbulence with Detachment director Tony Kaye". March 23, 2012. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  3. ^ "DP/30: Detachment, director Tony Kaye (YouTube video)". DP/30: The Oral History Of Hollywood. March 22, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  4. ^ "DP/30: Detachment, director Tony Kaye (YouTube video)". DP/30: The Oral History Of Hollywood. March 22, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  5. ^ Gordon, Cox (April 4, 2011). "'Detachment', Rocker Doc Join Tribeca". Variety.
  6. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (April 29, 2011) "Pretty Pictures takes French Rights to Detachment". Screen International.
  7. ^ Fernandez, Jay (September 8, 2011) "Tribeca Films Picks Up Tony Kaye's Detachment for U.S." The Hollywood Reporter.
  8. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (November 4, 2011) "Buyers attached to Celluloid Dreams' Detachment". Screen International.
  9. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (August 17, 2011) "Deauville Sets Competition". Variety.
  10. ^ Leffler, Rebecca (September 10, 2011) "Take Shelter Wins Grand Prize". The Hollywood Reporter.
  11. ^ Cox, Gordon (September 20, 2011) "Detachment Closes Woodstock". Variety.
  12. ^ (October 16, 2011) "Detachment Double Crown in Valenciennes" La Voix Du Nord.
  13. ^ Schilling, Mark (September 21, 2011) "'Detachment' joins Tokyo fest lineup". Variety.
  14. ^ Schilling, Mark (October 30, 2011) "'Untouchable' Wins Tokyo Grand Prix". Variety.
  15. ^ (November 3, 2011) "35 Mostra Internacional de Cinema".
  16. ^ Gijon, Bernardo (November 3, 2011) "53 International Film Festival" El Punto Critico.
  17. ^ Detachment (2012) – Movie Review for Parents and Teachers. Student Handouts (March 16, 2012). Retrieved on April 24, 2014.
  18. ^ Detachment | Movie Reviews. Rolling Stone (March 15, 2012). Retrieved on April 24, 2014.

External links[edit]