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Nadezhda (Margita Gosheva) works as an English teacher in a small Bulgarian town, trying to make ends meet by taking translation jobs on the side, although her boss still hasn’t paid her. One day in class, a student steals some money, and Nadezhda tries everything to find out who the culprit is. While she tries to find out which student it was, she is forced to deal with her own financial problems, as her husband has spent all their money, and they are about to lose their home.

Co-directed by Kristina Grozeva, and Petar Valchanov, The Lesson is a very tense, soul crushing film. Opening with Nadezhda finding out that there is a thief in her classroom, we start to see how similar Nadezhda and this thief really are. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and that is exactly where Nadezhda finds herself. Threatened with losing her home in three days, she resorts to increasingly desperate, and occasionally dangerous methods to get the money.

While the film is certainly emotional, it’s also surprisingly terrifying. With Nadezhda racing around town trying to get to the bank before it closes, or forced into situations that are incredibly dangerous, the tension is very high. Margita Gosheva is beautiful in the role, creating a strong character that we desperately want to see succeed, which only makes each stumble in her life that much more painful to witness.