The Emperor's Club
Students of life-lesson dramas featuring charismatic teachers who affect the moral development of their pupils are in the wrong study hall if they think this is ”Dead Poets Society II.” Adapted from Ethan Canin’s short story ”The Palace Thief” and set in an all-boys prep school in 1972, The Emperor’s Club — a traditionally dressed, old-fashioned drama, starring Kevin Kline in the Robin Williams role — is as much about the moral development of the adult as about his boys’. More so, maybe. Kline does a welcome, restrained job as a prof whose ambivalent relationship with his own successful father shades his teacherly relationship with a senator’s kid. (When the action shifts 25 years to an alumni reunion, the real psychological calculus becomes clear.) Emile Hirsch from ”The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys” makes an excellent son of privilege; Harris Yulin channels the chutzpah of LBJ to steal his scenes as a senator for whom ethics are frills for sissies.