Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog

The Class

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on June 12, 2010 at 2:35 PM

THE CLASS   ***1/2

Laurent Cantet


IDEA:   A rich, in depth look into class dynamics and complex teacher/student relationships in an inner-city French school.

BLURB:   This is a film focused on talk, on the art of conversation and its often mazy, tangential nature. It’s also completely invigorating, a classroom drama that is enlivened by its stark, unsentimental build and cracking effortlessness. François Bégaudeau, playing a version of himself as the teacher, is magnificent, and the same goes for the cast of nonprofessional young actors improvising as his students. They are all so naturalistic and ardently real you could swear you were observing real life. And you might as well be, because presented at the center of this great sociological microcosm are feelings and moral decisions as universal as can be, ethical dilemmas faced by both teachers and students in such equal measure they all seem to be sweating the very same frustration. Yet there is no miraculous redemption here, just a meticulous portrait of cultures and personalities in distress, authority and pupils alike suffering at the hands of an inherently problematic institutional system. The lives go on, even as the questions grow more uneasy.

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