film reel image

film reel image

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Cruel Instruction 2022 * * 1/2 Stars


Two teenagers are sent away to a Utah institution. Why? Because one got expelled and the other is attending to avoid a stint in juvie. While at said institution, they are put through the ringer by an evil headmistress with questionable behavioral methods. That's the gist of Cruel Instruction

Released in March of this year, Cruel Instruction is a Lifetime Television movie that seems to hark back to the network's golden era (80s/90s). It's like a prison drama that doesn't take place in a prison (it's more of a residential treatment center). The young girl personas featured walk on eggshells throughout and almost need permission to breathe. You the viewer will harbor the same feeling even though "Instruction" feels the want to cut corners (in effective storyboard editing, character development, and overall diegesis).

Camryn Manheim and Kelcey Mawema star in "Instruction" as a Nurse Ratched type (Miss Connie) and a shy, misunderstood 15-year-old (Kayla Adams). Their performances are good and they undoubtedly anchor the film. But like a lot of goings-on in Cruel Instruction, their ending fates seem cryptic and all for naught. I mean did Connie eventually go to the slammer? And what the heck is Kayla going to do with her life after being thrown out of high school?

Cruel Instruction is longer in length than your typical Lifetime-r (maybe it was the commercials). Pretty much everyone in it (that includes the jugged love interest, the treatment center bully, the parents, the orderlies) fades in and out while being almost totally paradoxical. 

Sure Cruel Instruction lays out the blueprint of damaged youth. Sure the film's military school environment seems cold (and harsh) and sure, everyone's popping meds without seeing much daylight. But does "Instruction" actually push the envelope? Nah. It's disturbing in parts but fails to reach the heights of say something like When You Remember Me (a confinement TV vehicle from the beginning of The Good Decade starring Fred Savage). "Cruel instruction manual". 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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