Saturday, March 07, 2009

Movie Report: The Class

The Class, or as it was known in France, Entre les murs, (Between the Walls) is certainly no To Sir With Love, nor its host of imitators over the last 40 years who uniformly portray an idealistic young teacher winning over skeptical students with enthusiasm and dedication.

The movie is about a school in Paris, ethnically diverse, but like middle schools everywhere, or at least in the United States, one where learning often gets lost in the battle between teachers and teen hormones. The movie shows it like it is; students are more than a handful; looking for any weakness or diversion to keep from spending time learning. But unlike Sidney Poitier's perfect character in To Sir With Love, this teacher is well-intentioned, but flawed. His students push him beyond what any teacher should be pushed, but he gets in trouble when he reacts with inappropriate language.

This is a must-see movie if you're a middle-school teacher. It was written by a teacher, and is loosely based on a year at his school. It probably should be seen in the company of a teacher. For a non-teacher, it starts a little slowly. I went with The Wife, who teaches English as a Second Language in middle school and she loved it. For myself, about half way through the movie, I leaned over and whispered, "Is the plot going to start pretty soon?"

The movie was nominated (but didn't win) for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, and has won a host of other awards, including the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival. I left the theater disappointed at the slow pacing and was prepared to give it three stars. But a little lobbying at dinner by The Wife convinced me to give it an extra star for its authenticity. There were no heroes nor villains. That's worth at least a star in the cinema these days.


forsythia said...

Put it on our Netflix queue.

Patry Francis said...

I will add it to my Netflix que, too, but I, for one, miss heroes. We can't always live up to the kind SP exemplified in To Sir With Love, but they inspire us to try.

rdl said...

I think i will pass on this one. I get to see it up close and personal at home and that's enof for me.

Anonymous said...

I have been anticipating this movie, planning to see it with a very good friend who happens to be French and a school teacher. She and her husband seem to be the only people that I know who still go to the theater so it's always a treat. I prefer anything out of the ordinary, including the slow ones and lots of foreign movies, esp French. I'll let you know.

Lydia said...

Oooh, thanks! I'd read only read Rave reviews of this, so perhaps your mixed one will help me to not have too high expectations.

That reminds me that I urged my brother and SIL to see Doubt last night on a precious Sitter night. I hope they liked it at least a fraction as well as we did!