Detachment (film)

Detachment is a 2011 American drama film directed by Tony Kaye and distributed by Tribeca Film. It was written by Carl Lund. Its story follows Henry Barthes, a high-school substitute teacher who becomes a role model to his students and others. It stars Adrien Brody, Marcia Gay Harden, Christina Hendricks, William Petersen, Bryan Cranston, Tim Blake Nelson, Betty Kaye, Sami Gayle, Lucy Liu, Blythe Danner, and James Caan.

Detachment poster.jpg
Directed byTony Kaye
Written byCarl Lund
Produced byGreg Shapiro
Carl Lund
Bingo Gubelmann
Austin Stark
Benji Kohn
Chris Papavasiliou
CinematographyTony Kaye
Edited byBarry Alexander Brown
Geoffrey Richman
Music byThe Newton Brothers
Distributed byTribeca Film
Release dates
  • April 25, 2011 (2011-04-25) (Tribeca)[1]
  • March 16, 2012 (2012-03-16) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,681,521[2]

The film was produced by Greg Shapiro, Carl Lund, Bingo Gubelmann, Austin Stark, Benji Kohn, and Chris Papavasiliou and was released on March 16, 2012. It grossed $10,739 during its opening weekend and $1.68 million worldwide.[2] It received mixed reviews and has a 57% approval rating based on 72 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.[3]


Detachment is a chronicle of one month in the lives of several high school teachers, administrators and students through the eyes of a substitute teacher named Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody). Barthes' method of imparting vital knowledge to his temporary students is interrupted by the arrival of three women in his life—a damaged and naive sex worker, Erica (Sami Gayle), a fellow teacher, Sarah (Christina Hendricks), and a troubled teen named Meredith (Betty Kaye). These women all have profound effects on Barthes' life, forcing him to both re-discover aspects of his own personality, and to come to terms with both the tragic suicide of his mother and the impending death of his grandfather (Louis Zorich). The film is punctuated with flashbacks of scenes of Barthes' young childhood and his mother's suicide.

Sub-plots include the struggles of Dr. Parker (Lucy Liu) within her role as the school counselor and the painful torment of Principal Dearden (Marcia Gay Harden), who faces her dismissal as head of this deeply flawed school.



Filming took place in Mineola Middle School and Mineola High School on Long Island, New York.

In March 2012, cast member Bryan Cranston was asked about Detachment during an interview for Collider. The reporter told Cranston that he loved the movie and then started to ask his question. "Wait," Cranston said, "did you like 'Detachment'?" The reporter said again that he loved it, and Cranston seemed surprised. "I haven't seen it," he told the assembled press. "I'm surprised to hear that actually." When asked to clarify, he continued, "Because I felt that Carl Lund, the writer of 'Detachment,' wrote a really beautiful, haunting script. And I didn't feel that it was honored." Shocked by Cranston's frankness, the reporters pushed him for more on that disagreement. "I was upset with that. I really was. And so I didn't see the movie." He sighed, resigned, and continued, after searching for the right way to phrase himself, "Tony Kaye is a very complicated… interesting fellow." He smiled as he chose his words carefully. "I don't believe that I'll be working with him again. I didn't not get along with him on a personal level. But I just honor the writing. I really think that writing is the most important element there is. It is the springboard. It is where everything starts. And if you don't honor that -- which I didn't feel it was -- then where are you?" He leaned in as if telling everyone a secret. "And I'm not the only actor on that film to feel that way."[4]

In the same month, director Tony Kaye touched upon the issue in a separate interview. "My agent sent me this fantastic piece of writing by a guy called Carl Lund. A writer. One of the things that I felt was how real it was. And writing is really about research and speech and I thought this guy’s really done his homework. In fact it turned out that he had been a teacher. So then it all became very clear. And then when it really began, if you like, really really began was when Adrien Brody sort of popped up and said I’ll do this. A couple of weeks before we were supposed to start to shoot. And then I decided myself at that point I’m gonna hang the whole thing on you [Brody]. And try to build out your character of Henry much more and make it all everything about you. Just you.” The interviewer then asks Kaye if he rebuilt the script at that point. Kaye responds, “Well I reinterpreted it, yeah. When Carl first wrote it, I believe it was a very vignette ensemble thing." ”Carl's script was very impressionistic, and [a] part of what I do, sometimes, [is] very impressionistic storytelling. I used that to its full, here, to try and make sense of it all....[5] There's more [footage] of Marcia Gay Harden and Bryan Cranston [which] I've got in the hard drives, and I'm hoping to [get] it out, in maybe a longer cut." [6]


Detachment premiered on April 25, 2011, at the Tribeca Film Festival.[1] Pretty Pictures acquired rights to distribute the film in France.[7] In September 2011, Tribeca Film acquired U.S. distribution rights with Celluloid Dreams repping worldwide sales rights.[8] Territories sold include Benelux (Wild Bunch), Italy (UBU), Middle East (Shooting Stars), Russia (CP Digital), Latin America (California), India (Pictureworks), Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam (PT Parkit) and Taiwan (Cineplex).[9]

On September 9, 2011, Detachment screened in competition at the 37th Deauville American Film Festival in France.[10] It won both the Revelations Prize and the International Critics' Award.[11] On September 18, Detachment was announced as the Closing Night Film at the Woodstock Film Festival, where Kaye was the recipient of the Honorary Maverick Award.[12]

On October 12, 2011, Detachment screened in competition at the Valenciennes International Festival of Action and Adventure Films in France, where it won the Grand Prize and the Audience Award.[13] Later, on October 26, the film screened in competition at the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival.[14] It received the award for Best Artistic Contribution, sharing honors with the film Kora.[15]

Detachment also screened in competition at the 35th São Paulo International Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Foreign Language Film, sharing honors with Chicken with Plums.[16] On November 16, Detachment screened at the 53rd Muestra Internacional de Cine in Mexico.[17]

In January 2012, Detachment won Best Picture at the Ramdam Film Festival in Tournai, Belgium.[citation needed][18]

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 57% based on 72 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Detachment's heart is in the right place, but overall it doesn't offer any solutions to its passionate ranting."[3] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52% based on reviews from 20 critics.[19]

Peter Travers from Rolling Stone awarded the film three out of four stars, praising the performances of Adrien Brody, Marcia Gay Harden and Lucy Liu. "Detachment gets to you. It hits hard", he wrote.[20]

A reviewer for Student Handouts, which reviews books and films for those working in education, said: "It easily makes Dangerous Minds look like a pandering Lifetime made-for-TV movie."[21]


  1. ^ a b Gordon, Cox (April 4, 2011). "'Detachment', Rocker Doc Join Tribeca". Variety.
  2. ^ a b "Detachment". Box Office Mojo. May 3, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Detachment (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  4. ^ Radish, Christina (March 23, 2012). "Bryan Cranston Talks BREAKING BAD Season 5, Directing an Episode of MODERN FAMILY, and More". Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  5. ^ DP/30: Detachment, director Tony Kaye. DP/30: The Oral History Of Hollywood. March 22, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2016 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ DP/30: Detachment, director Tony Kaye. DP/30: The Oral History Of Hollywood. March 22, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2016 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (April 29, 2011) "Pretty Pictures takes French Rights to Detachment". Screen International.
  8. ^ Fernandez, Jay (September 8, 2011) "Tribeca Films Picks Up Tony Kaye's Detachment for U.S." The Hollywood Reporter.
  9. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (November 4, 2011) "Buyers attached to Celluloid Dreams' Detachment". Screen International.
  10. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (August 17, 2011) "Deauville Sets Competition". Variety.
  11. ^ Leffler, Rebecca (September 10, 2011) "Take Shelter Wins Grand Prize". The Hollywood Reporter.
  12. ^ Cox, Gordon (September 20, 2011) "Detachment Closes Woodstock". Variety.
  13. ^ (October 16, 2011) "Detachment Double Crown in Valenciennes" La Voix Du Nord.
  14. ^ Schilling, Mark (September 21, 2011) "'Detachment' joins Tokyo fest lineup". Variety.
  15. ^ Schilling, Mark (October 30, 2011) "'Untouchable' Wins Tokyo Grand Prix". Variety.
  16. ^ (November 3, 2011) "35 Mostra Internacional de Cinema".
  17. ^ Gijon, Bernardo (November 3, 2011) "53 International Film Festival" El Punto Critico.
  18. ^ "Detachment (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  19. ^ "Detachment". Metacritic. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  20. ^ Detachment. Rolling Stone (March 15, 2012). Retrieved on April 24, 2014.
  21. ^ Detachment (2012) – Movie Review for Parents and Teachers. Student Handouts (March 16, 2012). Retrieved on April 24, 2014.

External linksEdit