The Class

"Excellent"

The Class Review


Based on the French best-seller Entre le Murs, which literally translates into "Between the Walls," Laurent Cantet's The Class casts the author of that book, François Bégaudeau, in the role of himself as a real-life inner-city high school teacher embedded in the trenches of the war between classical education and the ever-changing face of modern culture. What initially bears the components of a typical retread of white-teacher-inspires-multi-ethnic-students melodrama turns out to be something much funnier than one might expect from the director of brooding dramas the likes of Time Out and Human Resources.

Cantet spent months auditing Bégaudeau's classes and ended-up casting many of the students as themselves in the film. Like many of its egregious American counterparts (Dangerous Minds and Freedom Writers, to name a few), Cantet has outfitted Bégaudeau with a melting pot of cultural and racial variants to contend with, including a goth and a smart Asian kid. Unlike those films, however, there is no effort to pigeonhole these identities, nor is there any effort to sanctify François. Though it garners much of its action through simple debate, one of the film's central dramas concerns François accusing two of his students of "acting like skanks." The teacher never becomes characterized as sinner or saint, and it reveals a great deal of depth in Cantet's material.

Cantet keeps the camera on a tight leash, rarely venturing outside Bégaudeau's classroom. The little history we are given about the students is delivered in boyish braggadocio, excited chatter, and whispered rumors. At one point, a gaggle of Bégaudeau's students bully the teacher by berating him about a popular rumor that he's gay. Thanks to Cantet's unrelenting focus, we are never told if Bégaudeau is gay, a Sarkozy supporter, or has a German granduncle who fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

Later on, it's the violent outburst of one of François' more outspoken students that becomes a concern, prompting a meeting over possible expulsion. Accompanied by a mother who can speak only scattered French phrases, the student becomes the lynchpin of the movie when it is argued whether or not he should be kicked out of the school. This orderly tribunal allows for high-minded debate between François and his colleagues, but the teacher gets the business from his students. Hopelessly unable to find common ground, Bégaudeau and his fiery teens allow for one of the more simple and engaging looks at the victories and turmoils of democracy to ever be put on the screen.

Though its ideas on the political majority prove fascinating and hugely entertaining, it's ultimately the film's clashing concern over education that elevates The Class from simple intrigue to a work of fervent discourse. Bégaudeau attempts to teach the students through classical texts, including The Diary of Anne Frank, but he is consistently overcome by a rambunctious, Internet-educated culture. So weak is Bégaudeau's own confidence in classical teaching that when one of his more sassy students quotes Plato's Republic, he is completely dumbfounded. Similar is Cantet's reaction to the hyper-modern, surprisingly well-rounded discussions that the kids often initiate, discussions in which François is scrambling simply to keep up. It begs the question: What shall we do if the teachers are the ones who need a better education?

Aka Entre les murs.

The heads of the class.



The Class

Facts and Figures

Run time: 128 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 24th September 2008

Box Office USA: $3.6M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Eesti Televisioon

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 144 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: Vallo Kirs as Kaspar, Pärt Uusberg as Joosep, Lauri Pedaja as Anders, Paula Solvak as Thea, Mikk Mägi as Paul, Riina Ries as Riina, Joonas Paas as Toomas, Kadi Metsla as Kati, Triin Tenso as Kerli, Virgo Ernits as Tiit, Karl Sakrits as Olav

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

Advertisement
The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.