my old school
REVIEWER: lyall carter
In 1993, a boy named Brandon Lee enrolls at the Bearsden Academy secondary school in Glasgow, Scotland. Over time, it is revealed that Brandon Lee is not who he seems.
The astonishing true story of Scotland’s most notorious imposter. It’s 1993 and 16 year old Brandon is the new kid in school. Soon he’s top of the class, acing exams and even taking the lead in the school musical. He’s the model pupil, until he’s unmasked. What followed over the next two years would become the stuff of legends.
My Old School is one of those documentaries that feel as though you’re actually been hoodwinked and this is in fact a figment of someone’s wild imagination, completely made up. But it very much is not.
The doco begins relatively normally, interviewing former students of Bearsden Academy, a secondary school in Glasgow, Scotland about a former classmate. While they thought on initially meeting him that he was a little odd and that he appeared slightly older than them, they largely accepted him as one of their classmates. As an audience your suspicions are further raised as while Brandon agreed to an interview, he didn’t want his face to be shown.
Alan Cumming seamlessly lip syncs to those interviews, providing a superb, immersive performance, drawing the audience into Brandon’s mind and actions. It never feels as if it's being overplayed; if you didn’t know it was an actor you’d swear it was Brandon himself.
Director Jono McLeod brilliantly uses a variety of methods in which to convey his story from animated sequences to interviews with former classmates and the previously mentioned Alan Cumming. As the tale is told in chronological order it never feels as if it's being sensationalised, as the temptation may have been with such a salacious tale.
So often documentaries cover the lives of those with a dream and how they set about fulfilling it. My Old School is the opposite of that. It gives us rare insight into how a person, obsessed with their life dream, did everything they could to try and make that a reality. Truly engrossing stuff.
A bizarre and engrossing tale. My Old School is an extraordinary documentary that you just have to see to believe.