Lost in the Reel’s video review of The Tutor

The Tutor is one of those films that I would usually completely skip past, but I was immediately intrigued by the casting of Stranger Things’ Noah Schnapp in one of the lead roles.  It’s been so interesting getting to see the ensemble cast from Netflix’s hit series grow up in front of our eyes and take on other substantial roles.  Millie Bobbie Brown hit it huge with franchises like Enola Holmes and Godzilla, Finn Wolfhard has seemingly been everywhere in indies and blockbusters like Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Joe Keery was a huge highlight of Free Guy and Gaten Matarazzo even got his own show on Netflix called Prank Encounters… but, Noah Schnapp is one of the few actors from the Stranger Things crew to not really have a breakout role outside of the series.  


Enter Vertical Entertainment’s The Tutor, a slick-looking thriller that also stars Garrett Hedlund and Victoria Justice.  It follows a, you guessed it, tutor named Ethan… who makes his money mentoring children of the filthy rich to make sure they get into their IV League Colleges.  One day he receives an offer asking directly for his services and an exorbitant amount of money per day to tutor a young man named Jackson.   Ethan immediately gets red flags from the kid, who doesn’t seem like he needs any tutoring at all… more like a psych evaluation instead.  Unfortunately, with a baby on the way, he decides to stay for the money and endure the weirdness… but, how much can this tutor take until his life completely unravels?

The plot of The Tutor is a little basic, but there was a lot of room to build off of it and create some enticing thrills.  I’m a sucker for a good obsession story, and putting a little twist on it with Noah Schnapp becoming obsessed with Hedlund’s character attracted me enough to check this one out.  But, unfortunately, The Tutor is almost a complete misfire and probably worth skipping altogether.  


The real issue here is that the movie never feels like it takes off.  I kept looking at the time waiting for The Tutor to actually do something interesting… But, it literally flatlines from the very beginning and is never able to resuscitate itself.  There are absolutely no thrills to be had here and zero tension, making for one of the dullest movie experiences I’ve had in quite some time.  And I honestly blame most of this on the inept screenplay by Ryan King, unless something really awful and misguided happened in the editing room.  


The best example of the clumsiness of the screenplay, happens during what (I assume) was supposed to be the big reveal of the movie.  As this revelation is dropped into the lap of our lead character; he acts completely unphased by the whole thing.  Rather than him discovering it on his own and it leading to some kind of shock factor…The twist is just told to him through some clunky dialogue and Ethan pretty much just shrugs it off.  As a viewer I was left scratching my head wondering if I had missed him finding out this reveal first on his own, but sadly, I hadn’t.  This horribly anti-climactic shift in the narrative then leads to absolutely nothing of substance afterwards.  

I just feel like everyone involved deserved better than what was given to them in this screenplay.  As the end credits rolled, all i could think about was what the purpose of The Tutor was and why anyone should be expected to care.  The characters are so thinly drawn, there is no forward momentum of the plot, there is little excitement or tautness, and the story literally feels like it leads nowhere and has nothing of merit to say.  Now, it may sound like I am being too harsh on the film. And that might be true, but to me, The Tutor was an extremely frustrating watch. And one of the worst kind of film offenses… It had so much potential, but it felt like it never even tried from the get-go.  


The one positive thing that I can take away from the movie, is that Noah Schnapp showed some real promise.  While I was a bit disappointed that his Jackson ends up being more of a side character to Hedlund’s Ethan; every time the young actor is on screen the movie began sputtering to life.  Schnapp is extremely effective playing this unhinged, possibly psychotic, and mentally unstable character… Still garnering our empathy, whilst also making us constantly question if we should trust him or not.  He is almost channeling Anthony Perkins from Psycho here and I was completely captivated by the performance.  It makes it all the more irritating, that the film this performance lives in is such a misguided dud.  One can only hope that Schnapp is given the chance to play a character like this again… In a much better production.  

The Tutor will be exclusively in select theaters March 24th, 2023.

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