This was an ALMOST perfect indie film -- an original tale about quirky, marginalized characters. But it's ruined when, during the film's last five minutes, an artificially sappy, happy Hollywood ending is tacked on.
Mona (Jessica Alba) is an emotionally troubled young woman. Her father appears to be schizophrenic. It's likely that Mona has inherited his mental disease (whatever that is) and will worsen with time.
Mona gets a job teaching math, though her mother lied about Mona having a college degree. Then a science teacher courts Mona, but she can't connect with him (or anyone). After he kisses her, she runs away and eats soap. She drives him away. Mona also brings an ax into class, because it's shaped like the number 7.
Near the film's end, there's a classroom fight. Two of Mona's (also emotionally troubled) girl students fight over the ax (while the boys fight over a prosthetic limb). One of the girls just lost her mother to cancer. The other girl's parents are going through a messy divorce. In the aftermath, one girl's forehead is bloodied against a glass pane. The other girl (carrying the ax) slips on urine, with the ax embedding itself into Mona's leg.
Mona is fired by the school.
Up until now, the film was filled with moments of poignancy and honest emotion -- but then in the FINAL 5 MINUTES -- after Mona's firing -- everything turns around for her with sudden ease.
* Mona is suddenly able to love the science teacher.
* Mona adopts the student who lost her mother to cancer.
* Mona's attorney threatens to sue the school, resulting in Mona getting her teaching job back.
This fake, SAPPY Hollywood ending ruins an otherwise courageous indie film.
The lawsuit is especially FAKE. Mona's attorney says that Mona has an excellent case against the school (for wrongful termination, one presumes).
ON WHAT PLANET?
* Mona has NO college degree. Her mother LIED to the school district about her qualifications, and Mona supported that lie. She is legally unqualified to teach. It wouldn't matter if she now promises to go to night school to get her degree, they can still fire her.
* One student was INJURED under Mona's supervision -- and others were endangered all because Mona brought an AX to class! Mona is lucky she isn't sued by the student's guardian. The guardian certainly has an excellent lawsuit against the school district.
* On top of which, Mona is still in her first year of teaching. She'd be under probation, without tenure. It'd be EASY to fire her, for a lot less.
The filmmakers should have kept the film real, honest, and authentic. Mona should not have had such an artificially happy turnaround on all fronts -- gets the guy, adopts the kid, gets her job back despite having NO case whatsoever against the school district.
I loved this film until the last 5 minutes, but the dishonest ending left a bad taste in my mouth.