College professor Richard is diagnosed with inoperable stage four lung cancer. With six months to live, Richard decides to abandon his ways and live life to the fullest.
The Professor allows Johnny Depp to flex his acting chops once again as a professor with a terminal illness. Stuck in a marriage with a wife who constantly plays away, with his boss no less, and bound to a job that is tied to much with rules, Depp’s character Richard decides to step up and explore everything life has to offer before it’s too late. Keeping the secret to himself and his best friend Peter, played wonderfully by Danny Huston, he requests a sabbatical from work. In the meantime, he radically shakes up his method of teaching so that the only ones who’ll stay in his class are the ones who are prepared to change the lives of themselves and those around them, to truly make a dent on the world.
Johnny Depp plays Richard with an unfamiliar calm and reserve that we’re not used to seeing him perform since his stints as larger-than-life characters in the blockbusters. However, this is a more than welcome return to the Depp performances I adore. His character Richard is seen as a bit of a pushover – his wife Veronica (Rosemarie DeWitt) toying and ridiculing him as she boasts about her sexual conquests as he tries to remember the last time he had sex. With the news of his prognosis, he decides to turn his life around. He begins to drink, smoke, have sexual flings with strangers and tell the world what he thinks of them rather than keep his thoughts to himself. He revolutionises his teaching and rips up the rulebook as he looks to give his students a real-life lesson not learnt from text books, but one that they will grow and evolve from, to learn more about themselves. In turn, Richard begins to learn some of his own truths and embraces the relationships he has and will undoubtedly leave behind.
The Professor‘s lust for life and vigour is a refreshing outlook on what is a tragic storyline, with humour also being used to craft this sensitive, poignant screenplay into one that will touch the heart of audiences. A scene that stands out for me is when Peter drags a reluctant Richard to a support group for other cancer sufferers. It’s clear that the group is more for Peter who cannot stand the thought of losing his best friend, but Richard doesn’t want to wallow in self-pity and dwell on the fact he’s terminally ill. When one of the group suggests he can’t go drinking with him cos he has cancer, Richard retort shows that you don’t need to let your diagnosis become you. Life is for living and it can be over in a blink of an eye, so live each day in the present and to the fullest. Don’t merely exist and put yourself down. Lift yourself up and be who you want to be and make the change.
Featuring a tremendous cast with Depp putting in one of his finest performances in years, The Professor is an uplifting movie with a message that can be embraced by all. A beautiful, funny and touching film.