Cracks, the remarkably assured feature debut of Jordan Scott, daughter of Ridley, takes place entirely at an all-girls boarding school in 1934. The school is an imposing manor home isolated in the picturesque English countryside, with little black windows squinting out of a forbidding gray façade. The atmosphere inside is as oppressive and tense as you might expect. We see a morning service in the chapel, with scores of girls in identical uniforms singing a generic worship tune, while stealing nervous glances at the matrons glaring down sternly from their perch. We learn that the teachers read and vet the students' letters home – one girl is told to "try not to sound so down in the dumps."
The students' downtime is hardly more forgiving. Among the clique of girls we meet – members of the school's prodigious diving team – the cool, unflappable Di (Juno Temple) commands her peers with an iron fist. The self-appointed enforcer of the most trivial school rules (the girls are allowed to keep five things -- and only five -- on their nightstands), she struts across the grounds with a deceptively coquettish wiggle, favoring some with a smile and dismissing others with a roll of the eyes. She's a nightmare – like a character out of Mean Girls, except British, and there's nowhere to go to get away from her.