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.

I’d be curious to hear from anyone else who has seen this film, especially if you’re a teacher or have taught in the past: Kelly, Greg, SamauraiFrog, this means you.


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