French 101: “The Class”

Posted: November 5, 2008 by jerkmag in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,


If you thought the “inner-city classroom drama” genre was played out (thanks Michelle Pfeiffer), leave it to the French to prove you wrong. At the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, The Class (Entre les murs) won the Palme d’Or, the equivalent to Best Picture at the Oscars. France has already submitted the film to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film consideration in 2009.

The trailer does not depict the typical French archetype of sophistication. Instead, the class consists of multi-cultured students with a disdain for higher learning. I have never seen a foreign spin of this genre so it will be interesting to see where the narrative goes and how the students interact with their teacher.

It’s easy to assume classroom films will fall victim to cliché. However, considering the authenticity of The Class (François Bégaudeau, who plays the teacher, also wrote the autobiographical story on which the movie is based) as well as the prestigious award it received in Cannes, the film should not be ignored by American audiences.

It’s always irked me that foreign films often get overlooked in America. A good foreign film is not hard to find if you’re looking for one. Thankfully, Sony Pictures Classics picked up The Class for U.S. distribution. It has a limited release date set for Christmas day.

~Mike Estabrook (Check out Mike’s film column running every Wednesday!)

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