Sunday, November 21, 2010


Written by Francois Begaudeau, Robin Campillo and Laurent Cantet.
Directed by Laurent Cantet.
Based on the book by Francois Begaudeau.


From the title of the movie and the description on the back you go into the movie thinking you know what will happen, thinking this is another 'teacher wins over the students' kind of film. But that kind of plot is used when a film strives for entertainment leaving behind what actually happens in a classroom or a school. This is very realistic; you could be sitting at a desk at the side of the room and watching the schoolroom banter, and even at times trying to learn.

Set in a school that takes in children from the poorer areas of Paris that includes many immigrants this class is made up of a colorful and diverse array of students: a cocktail of many types that I had come across when at school. This is how we can relate to the movie; we have been in or seen many of the scenarios, the types of characters, and the methods used by certain teachers. Not necessarily in the same class but at some point in our education.

Mr. Marin, the teacher, never seems to get a hold on the class. Someone will always disagree, or not understand or they won't listen and will become preoccupied with something or someone else. And we may become irritated, just like the teacher or another student trying to learn, but we also understand not everyone in a class is equal. Not everyone can learn or wants to learn and certainly not everyone will learn, especially in such a mixed class as this. One teacher cannot suit everyone's learning capabilities or preferences. And this movie doesn't pretend that they can.

There are some questionable decisions as to the roles of some of the students which may have been used to nudge the story on, and the dialogue between the teachers is fairly stale after the lively classroom discussions, but for any student 'teacher-to-teacher' talk would most likely be boring too. What this movie ultimately represents is my six years of high school in one class, dealing specifically with the theme of identity and the battle between teacher and student respect. Some people will say they've had classes exactly like this, some like me will see it as a microcosm of their school-life, and others may not find it familiar at all; but there's no doubting its realistic simulation of the classroom.

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