The Professor (2018) Review: A Showcase of Recklessness and Impending Death

By Daniel Hart
Published: May 17, 2019 (Last updated: December 28, 2023)
The Professor Johnny Depp - Wayne Robert's film


Wayne Roberts’s The Professor stars a slurring character played by Johnny Depp and articulates a well-made drama about a man coming to terms with his impending death.

Wayne Roberts’s The Professor is a sudden realization that life is ridiculously short, with the drama starring Johnny Depp viewing life in the shallowest of ways. We often live life as if there is no death. We avoid our most certain outcome stubbornly, pretending that our bodies have genetics that do not deteriorate over time. Death is much more trustworthy than time, which is a clear message from the director in this dark comedy story.

Johnny Depp plays Richard in The Professor, who practices and teaches English. The opening scene is a blank, dark canvass with his doctor telling him that the cancerous tumors in his lungs have spread beyond cure, and with treatment, he can live for a further two years; without, he will live for a further six months. What a damning assessment that would be for anyone, and you can immediately tell that Richard does not aspire to fight for another two years. He’d instead enjoy the natural time he has left.

Richard spends most of the film drunk and entertaining in a way that is unreasonable, yet amusing to observe. The Professor forms a character that has no reason anymore, and his immediate environment is his playground – he is in control of his responses, his actions and how he chooses to live in that moment; Richard is the epitome of not giving a fuck while containing his pending, spiraling grief. Of course, you can feel his fragile emotional state seep away from him, but on the surface, he desires not to live his last days confined to the system.

The way he treats those close to him and his essential acquaintances is what serves the film well, as he drunkenly deals with any situation thrown at him, and at times, forgets his impact on those who do not necessarily understand that he’s dying.

The one snag that did muddle my mind is the fact it is Johnny Depp doing what he does best – acting drunk. After years of witnessing this man play the famous Captain Jack Sparrow, it’s almost like The Professor chose him because he convincingly delivers an inebriated voice. His intoxicated ways are more reserved and focused in Wayne Robert’s feature, but I admittedly expected him to go on a pirate rant. Depp’s performance is fine, but at the same time this is his film, yet it showcased nothing new or groundbreaking that separates it from anything else in his filmography.

The Professor proves Wayne Robert’s talent in constructing a well-made drama and confirms that Johnny Depp can still act; with those things merged together, you have a decent story.

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