The art of “Cracks”

September 7th, 2011

Set in the austere and secluded world of an all-girl boarding school in 1934 Britain, “Cracks” follows the story of Miss G, a charismatic and glamorous teacher played by Eva Green and her class of six girls that struggle to cope with the arrival of an enigmatic Spanish blueblood.

Thriving on the attention she gets from her girls, Miss G projects an aura of a well-versed woman that pauses but for a brief moment to teach them the ways of the outer world.

Occasionally interacting with the girls, she spends the first few scenes as if her mind is travelling far away, sketching the next big adventure.

The first unexpected twist comes with the arrival of the new girl that, strangely at first, commands all the attention of Miss G. Stealing a piece of confectionery, she savors a small bit and saves the rest for later.

Dressed in a different elegant chic costume in every scene, we get a glimpse at Miss G’s past as a rare interaction with another grown up character (school’s director) reveals that she is a former student of this very school.

The progressively wilder changes in mood are highlighted by a larger variety of costumes, make up and hair styles.

Going from the bright summer textures to the heavy patterned dress further burdened by dated jewelry and loosely set hair contributes to the somewhat puzzling (at this stage) disarray of Eva Green’s character.

In a sharp contrast to the preceding scene that her room strewn with artifacts from her alleged travels, she is drawn to the rather drab display of a provincial variety shop.

And this first excursion from the school grounds has Miss G falling apart as she stumbles clumsily along the street and is frightened by the interaction with two men in a confectionery shop.

Back to smiling for the last time, Eva Green wears a beautiful dress, complete with a loose sash, a matching necklace and playfully coiffed hair. Her behavior in the scene is irrational at best as she tries to distance Fiamma away from the other girls who are finally opening up to the newcomer.

As the cracks go deeper, she spends progressively less time on her appearance. The carefully applied makeup is gone, revealing a pair of weary disillusioned eyes. The strokes of carefully chosen colors  are long lost in the drab gray costume, and strands of untended hair break loose from under the head scarf.

The light beige coat fails to compliment the last attempt to pull herself together, as the story turns towards a tragic end.

Trying to cling to the only place of relative comfort she knows, she wears a night gown that borrows the colors from the walls and doors in the hallway, silently clawing her way to blend into the surrounding surfaces.

In the final shots, all the glamour, mystery and panache is long gone, along with the elegance of her costumes and hair styling.

Production design: Ben Scott
Art direction: Bill Crutcher
Set decoration: Jenny Oman
Costume design: Alison Byrne
Editing: Valerio Bonelli
Cinematography: John Mathieson
Director: Jordan Scott