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Editorial Reviews

From OscarÂ(r)-nominated* writer-director David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross) comes this chillingly provocative, incisive drama that dissects the controversial issue of sexual harassmentfrom every emotionally wrenching side of the equation. When a college professor about to be tenured (William H. Macy, Fargo) meets a struggling student (Debra Eisenstadt) behind closed doors,their conversation yields only mutual misunderstanding and a charge of sexual harassment. And as their mutual antipathy turns ugly, it destroys lives, derails careers and ultimately leads to a cataclysmic event that no one ever expected! *1997: Adapted Screenplay, Wag the Dog (with Hilary Henkin); 1982: Adapted Screenplay, The Verdict

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: William H. Macy, Debra Eisenstadt, Diego Pineda, Scott Zigler
  • Directors: David Mamet
  • Writers: David Mamet
  • Producers: Patricia Wolff, Sarah Green
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: September 16, 2003
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009Y3N9
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,535 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Oleanna" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Joe Banks on October 13, 2005
Format: DVD
A previous reviewer called this film unnerving. Being a university professor, I can certainly attest that it touched a nerve. Oleanna is a fascinating character study that will almost certainly evoke powerful feelings in whoever watches it. After seeing it, I felt a lingering sense of unease that I couldn't quite explain. I thought about the film a long time before the reason dawned on me.

Oleanna is a story about a power play between two relatively unsympathetic characters: a pompous, complacent Professor and a dedicated, but dense, Student. At the start, the failing Student is seeking help from the seemingly indifferent Professor. As the plot slowly unfolds, we see that the Professor is not as uncaring as he initially appears. In fact, he delays a critical real estate deal to stay and counsel the student. Ironically, because of his compassion toward her, the advantage gradually shifts from the Professor to the Student. By the end of the story, it's shockingly clear how high the stakes really were--the power play has morphed into a death match.

Some reviewers have argued that each character's point of view has merit. For example, the Student has sacrificed & struggled to get to college, and is (rightly) angry that she if failing a course by a the Professor who holds higher education in utter contempt. That being said, the Student is clearly unable to grasp anything beyond a literal interpretation of what she reads, hears, or experiences. Because of this, it's painfully obvious that she doesn't belong in college. However, rather than hold her to a clear intellectual standard, the Professor tries to coddle and accomodate her. It is this misguided deed, combined with her literal & paranoid interpretation of his actions, that leads to the Professor's undoing.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Cool Breeze on April 11, 2005
Format: DVD
I have to agree with another reviewer regarding the tagline, ". . . whichever side you take, you're wrong." Well that's just not true. Any clear thinker can see the professor thinks he is interacting with a benign entity, a student who is floundering and needs his help. Unbeknownst to him, he is actually being visited by evil incarnate. Whichever side you take, you're either dead wrong or dead right.

Carol has struggled to get into college, and is now struggling to stay there at all. She is extremely frustrated. She is obviously her own worst critic, and as such is making college much more difficult than it needs to be by demanding that someone make her understand the material RIGHT NOW, and if a teacher is presenting material that is beyond her, it means she is stupid. Nobody likes feeling that. But in her mind, the teacher is actively saying that she is stupid, so she is going to make him pay. And she knows that she has no argument against him, so she does what any evil person would do: disregard the message, and destroy the messenger.

Carol is clearly a young, confused college student. Not uncommon. She has an IQ that obviously average. ("I don't understand." and "what does that mean?" about 400 times each). Common, by definition. She is naive to a degree that is disturbing. Not so common, which gives me some small amount of comfort, that people like this might be few and far between. These are her core flaws.

And then she hears her own teacher say that higher education might be a big swindle, might be a fake construct of a bygone age, might be of dubious use, and hardly anything more than a big game. The professor thinks that by making light of higher education, he might get her to stop being so tense, lighten up, and give herself a break.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 31, 2004
Format: DVD
As mentoined by others, this is not a film for the unprepared. Take Mamet's trademark choppy and rythmic prose - add that there are two characters in the whole film - put that together with the fact that the film is about one of the most controversial subjects and yet, does no 'moralizing' of the 'who's right' variety. What do you get? Boredom? Torture? That's what you'd think, right? Wrong! This film is outstanding; that is...if you are a David Mamet fan. I am, and quite frankly, if you're not, you should be.
Oleanna is the story of a girl who goes to see her college professor for help in a class she is failing. He means well (so it seems) and tries to help, but says (and does?) some thing that lead her to suspect sexual harrassment. Before long a complaint is filed and he may lose his tenure and his job. Yes, the whole film - THE WHOLE FILM - is dialogue between these two characters in his office (three acts). But as a testament to Mamet, no one has ever made a two-person dialogue stretched over 90 minutes so forward moving, exciting, confusing, nuanced, and awesome. The ending is explosive!
The reason for the knocked out star is for the Mamet-ness which, though I am accustomed to and love, may seem strange to the uninitiated. His style is this: the dialogue he writes containes fragmented and somewhat choppy sentences as an attempt to immitate real speech (why do movie characters always talk in complete sentences?). Further, instead of the actors improvising the "ums" and stammers, Mamet actually WRITES THEM INTO THE SCRIPT and the actor's job is to perform it completely as written! What does this make for? If done correctly and properly it makes for a highly rythmic and forward moving style.
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