In his impassioned lectures on Greek and Roman emperors, venerated professor William Hundert (a sublime Kevin Kline) expounds on how a man’s character, above all, determines his success. Hundert, who lives by his own lessons, teaches at St. Benedict’s Academy, an idyllic sanctuary of eager students and equally enthusiastic instructors, where every pupil’s primary goal is to be crowned “Mr. Julius Caesar” in the school’s annual academic competition. This utopia is unceremoniously disrupted by the arrival of Sedgewick (Emile Hirsch), a surly senator’s son less interested in studies than in the girls’ school across the lake. When Hundert sees an opportunity to unleash Sedgwick’s untapped potential, he faces an ethical dilemma that will haunt him for years to come. Although heavy-handed at times, this poignant examination of human nature is ultimately as invigorating as it is heartbreaking.
Kinsey Scale: 2 (In one scene, Sedgewick questions Hundert’s sexuality with spiteful innuendo veiled as a joke. Kline’s character discovered his lavender side in the homo hit In & Out. Director Michael Hoffman’s campy Soapdish hinged on the outing of a transsexual actress. Rob Morrow, seen here as a fellow instructor, starred in Northern Exposure, the first TV series to depict a gay wedding.)
(Appeared in Gay City News)