Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Class. A

'The Class,' based off of Francois Bégaudeau's account of his time as a literature teacher in France, is so real and full of life it feels almost like a documentary. Begaudeau also stars as Francois Marin, a brilliant teacher who is forced to cope with the difficult adolescent French students who defy him, question him, and show no sensitivity over their impertinent behavior. His students are quite intimidating, raising questions about his teaching that are unnecessary, yet challenging to answer. Yet Marin refuses to back down. He tackles every opposition and wrestles with it until the most logical conclusion is reached. 'The Class,' directed by Laurent Cantet, is a meditation on many things. First of all it gives a stunning portrait of the global state of the public school system. Secondly, it questions what discipline means and how it should be handled (this is dealt with in several terrific scenes involving all the teachers debating how to punish and reward students). And finally it shows us what it's like from the standpoint of a teacher to deal with a class. How do you answer these kids and not take what they say to heart? I imagine it's an extremely trying job, not because of the teaching, but because of dealing with the certain troublesome students. 'The Class' took home the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2008. It's a prestigious award and 'The Class' deserved it in every sense. This is one of the best movies about the school system and it comes from one of the most honest cinemas of the world: France. In fact, it's so truthful, that you couldn't possibly imagine Hollywood taking a project like it and staying true to reality.

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