Set in 1993, My Old School tells the story of Brandon Lee, a 17-year-old fifth year Canadian who became a student at Bearsden Academy, a high school near Glasgow. Brandon was a model student who was on the way to becoming a future doctor. However, in reality, everything about him was a lie. Strangely, Brandon’s real name turned out to be ‘Brian McKinnon’, a 32-year-old man who was not from Canada at all.
When the story broke, ‘Brandon’ quickly became worldwide news. After all, why would a grown man want to pose as a teenager unless something sinister was behind it? My Old School details the life of Brian (played here by Alan Cumming), as he attempts to relive his glory years by becoming the popular kid once again. More than this though, his hope was to achieve his dream of enrolling in university for medicine, something that Scotland will not allow anyone over 30 to do. Directed by Jono McLeod, School interviews present school faculty, classmates and, of course, ‘Brian’ himself for their perspective on the story.
More importantly though, the film offers a unique look at what a lot of us would love to have in our lives: a second chance at life. With age and experience, few people would pass up a chance to redo everything that they know now. In the case of Brian, he was able to do just that. Even though he was living a lie, Brian was able to have cool friends, get the grades he wanted, play lead in the school show, go on the vacations he wanted and even get into the University of Glasgow to study medicine.
Overall, My Old School has a sense of sadness about it, especially for Brian. Whereas one might judge him for his actions, it seemed that he truly only did what he did in order to make something his life. Liked by those around him, his classmates still have a fondness and admiration for him to this day.
My Old School is screening at HotDocs ’22. For screening information, click here.