The Class (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/02/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 128 mins

Engaging, superbly written and ultimately moving drama with terrific performances from the entire cast.

What's it all about?
Based on the novel by co-screenwriter, lead actor and real life teacher Francois Begaudeau, The Class unfolds over the course of a term at a secondary school in Paris. Begaudeau plays Francois Begaudeau, a language and literature teacher who tries to foster an atmosphere of respect and diligence in his multiethnic class of lively, opinionated teenagers.

Though most of the teachers label rebellious Souleymane (Franck Keita) as a trouble-maker, Francois appears to be on the verge of a breakthrough as a result of encouragement and praise after finding something that actually engages him. However, when two gossipy girls (Esmeralda Ouertani and Louise Grinberg) relay details of a staff meeting to the class, a violent incident ensues that could have unfortunate consequences for Souleymane.

The Good
The Class was the deserved winner of the coveted Palme D'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The superb script is utterly engaging from start to finish, to the point where you don't even notice the lengthy running time.

The young cast of mostly non-professional actors are superb – their performances crackle with energy, while their interactions are so believable that you'd swear you were watching a documentary. Keita, in particular, is genuinely heart-breaking as Souleymane, as you can sense all the potential of his future slowly slipping away from him, even as he maintains his tough attitude.

The Great
Though the film occasionally feels like an ultra-realistic version of an Inspirational Teacher Movie, it gains an extra layer of complexity in the fact that Begaudeau himself is guilty of crossing boundaries with the students. Indeed, it's his unguarded comment that sets the incident off in the first place – it's a shocking moment, but the film's strength is that it allows you to feel sympathy for both sides.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Class is a thoroughly engaging, superbly directed drama with strong performances and a challenging, provocative script. Highly recommended.

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The Class (15)
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Content updated: 21/09/2018 18:15

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