Laurent Cantet directs François Bégaudeau, Agame Malembo-Emene and Angélica Sancio in this French drama where we observe the annual ups and downs of an inner-city high school class from the dedicated but jaded teacher’s point-of-view.
The grind of dealing with behavioral issues, entitlement and over-enthusiasm. Bégaudeau essentially plays himself, this is based on his novel based on his experiences. In France both works are called Entre Les Murs, Between The Walls, suggesting we are getting an insider’s view. And what happens is pretty believable, natural, has the frustration of reality. There are no great white saviour moments, no overtures to suggest some grand success story emerging from all the turmoil and boisterousness. The basics are barely communicated, even the projects that capture the teens’ imaginations are only mildly impactful in any tangible graded way. The movie and the year ends with one quiet child questioning aloud and downcast whether she has really learned anything at all. In the first act we witness a few teachers, both newer and seasoned, react negatively about their kids in the staff room. Bégaudeau’s response is poker faced. Is he wiser? More attuned to the class’ pressure, problems and needs? He certainly never writes them off, approaches each lesson with seemingly realistic expectations of what might be achieved if they can stay on topic. Yet in the third act, a moment of emotion leaks out of him, his volatile charges leap on the negativity… even though one child’s ultimate fate is a systemic failure, long in the offing… he cannot help but feel his moment of weakness has lost him the opportunity to turn the tide. The Class itself, almost unconsciously bounces back quicker from the quiet tragedy that threatens their cohesive chaos. A telling drama that benefits from casting real faces rather than professional actors in most roles.
Perfect Double Bill: The We And The I (2012)
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