A couple weekends ago, the wife and her husband went on a date to the Spectrum Theatre in Albany to see Entre les murs (The Class) , a film nominated as best foreign film at the recent Oscars ceremony. It is in French, with subtitles.
Here’s the description from Rotten Tomatoes: “Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, master French director Laurent Cantet’s THE CLASS is an absorbing journey into a multicultural high school in Paris over the course of a school year. François Begaudeau–an actual teacher and the author upon whose work the film was based–is utterly convincing as François, an openminded teacher in charge of a classroom of youngsters from a wide variety of backgrounds.”
The movie IS utterly convincing, so much so that the style of the film makes one think it’s a documentary. Evidently, the Parisian inner-city school system experiences the same difficulties as a multicultural school in the United States. There’s the well-intended, optimistic and creative teacher; there’s a fairly large classroom of kids with sometime competing needs; there are the teaching colleagues who try to be supportive if they’re not burned out themselves; and there’s the administration, looking for a balance between being firm and fair.
It doesn’t have a big plot or much histrionics, rather like life itself. That it is a well-done film really is not the issue; 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, 8 of 10 starts on IMDB. The question: is it enjoyable? The movie is SO realistic that it felt a bit claustrophobic. Particularly for my wife, who is a teacher in an urban setting, it felt much too much like the truth. But we’re still thinking about the film.