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Foreign Film - France - The Class - Entre les murs

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The Class - Entre les murs
Francois Begaudeau, Students
Directed by Laurent Cantet
French with English subtitles
France 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2009
128 minutes

The Class (Entre les murs) is a foreign film DVD about a teacher in a French high school. Filmed cinema verite style, it should interest any parent who has a kid in school and wants to see what really goes on in a classroom. If you are looking for a feel good movie about education like Stand and Deliver or Lean On Me, The Class is going to disappoint. If you are looking for a realistic look at teachers, kids, and the education system this DVD will please.If you are not in the education field, oh well.

The Class is written by and stars Francois Begaudeau as Mr. Marin, a French teacher who works with fourteen and fifteen year olds in a lycee in Paris. The story is so close to his own experience The Class is almost a documentary about teaching to a classroom of very diverse kids who are not particularly interested in what is being taught. Then again, the “imparfait du subjonctif” is not a verb tense used by mortals so the students have a point.

There is little reason for this foreign film DVD to be over two hours long. It quickly becomes evident the students challenge the teacher who means well but fails to challenge them, that Mr. Marin slowly loses control of his class, and that not much has been learned by the end of the year. There are many classroom scenes that do little to move the story.

Much more interesting and just as revealing if not more are the very few scenes in the teachers’ lounge where there is the occasional emotional explosion and the parent – teacher night.

Because it is a bit too long and, in the end, only of real interest to those involved in education, I find it a bit difficult to see why this French film has won so many awards and was France’s Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film.

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