The 2019 Heartland International Film Festival’s premiere of “ The Miseducation Of Bindu” was the fastest sell-out in Heartland’s history. A comp ticket from a college friend, who also happens to be the producer’s ( Ed Timpe ) mother set me up for a prime seat. Her daughter-in-law, Prarthana Mohan, is the director and, along with Kay Tuxford, co-writer. There is reason to be proud.
The film’s premise has a bright, but home-schooled and protected 15 year-old “drowning in every possible way” as she attempts to negotiate the vagaries of high school, U.S.A. style.
Barbarous assaults of racial taunts, gossip and slander combine with shaving cream and coin-stack pranks, lunchroom-tripping, and pool-pushing to keep the innocent Bindu painfully treading water. Actress Megan Suri is stunning as she brings her Indian culture to the forefront. Bollywood dancing and spice heavy food prep are lauded; her protective mother ( Priyanka Bose), not so much. Suri is in every scene, but one. Her eyes and head shots are memorable for both their innocence and their determination.
Bindu has a plan: she will test out of high school. This is possible if she can come up with the $57.00 fee for the Spanish exam by the end of the school day. Sam ( Gordon Winarick ) and Trenton ( Logan Scholfield) are the film’s bullies. Peter ( Phillip Labes ) is her stalwart friend, whom she protects with her own reputation in my favorite scene.
The serious topic of making a place for oneself in the world is replete with chuckles and some nostalgia for a simpler time, though there were always “Holly the Heads” ( Hannah Alline ) in our lives. Kudos, also, to David Arquette who plays a step-dad who really tries. Tonight, at Newfields catch “The Miseducation Of Bindu”. Many will learn what today’s high schoolers deal with without a principal’s mandate for inclusive, building-culture oversight. Timely, and a microcosm for us in this era.