J.K Simmons and Julie Delpy star in Kurt Voelker’s touching, but at times slightly misjudged indie drama about a grieving school teacher attempting to survive the tragic loss of his wife and mother of his teenage son. Written and directed by Voelker, The Bachelors offers a commendable study in grief and heartache, but sadly never quite manages to ring true enough for it to be anything else but a cliché-laden coming-of-age story.
To overcome the sadness brought on by the loss of his wife, Maths teacher Bill (J.K. Simmons) has decided to start a new life with his teenage son Wes (Josh Wiggins) away from a home which still reminds both of them of their huge loss. When he is offered a new position at a private school by an old college friend, Bill decides to pack up and leave his old life behind in the hope that the two of them might start to finally heal.
Whilst keeping his own struggle to come to terms with the loss of his mother a secret from his doting father, Wes has also been finding it hard to fit in at his new school amongst rich kids and other popular jocks who look down on him and his father’s more humble background. But when he meets the enigmatic, and often sardonic Lacy Westman, played by Lady Bird’s Odeya Rush, the teenager soon learns to appreciate his new life and friendships and might even start to enjoy being a normal teenager again.
J.K Simmons puts in a commendable turn as Bill, but is slightly let down by an overly complicated and slightly convoluted script which cannot quite decide what it wants from his character. Julie Delpy is also great as likeable French language teacher Carine who takes a shine to Bill, and who is desperate for the two of them to be an item, however her character sadly lacks depth and believability and ultimately fails to fully convince. Elsewhere Josh Wiggins offers a beautifully nuanced performance as Wes, while Odeya Rush puts in a great performance as the teenager’s love interest.
On the whole The Bachelors could have perhaps benefited from a more nuanced plot and storyline instead of resorting to tired old indie tropes and clichés which we’ve seen thousands of times before. Having said that, nobody can accuse Voelker of not trying his best, even if he ultimately fails to bring anything new to the genre. A flawed, yet likeable premise which is ultimately let down by its inability to bring depth to an otherwise enjoyable storyline.
The Bachelors is in cinemas from Friday 30th of March