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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
40
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 August 2012
This movie is not for the feint of heart! Portraying a school where pupils are out of control and a teacher who is trying to be their friend and keep them under control. One unruly lad has another idea though: Anarchy! It is said to be prophetic, but I hope no real school is like this! Violence, drugs, and a fight to survive make this movie a thrilling watch. You will understand why censors back then were so concerned about this. It is a great watch though and a thrilling ride.

Also contains a very young Michael J Fox, who's brilliance as an actor shines forth in what is one of his early movies on his path to Back To The Future fame.

Enjoy!
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on 26 January 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed it. Good to practice your French, too!
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on 17 March 2017
Astute exploration into the classroom with phenomenal young actors
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on 17 December 2014
Thought provoking film in clear and concise French
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VINE VOICEon 14 August 2009
The Plot
Working in a tough Parisian suburb, teacher François Marin (François Bégaudeau) thinks that he can turn around the fortunes of his unruly class. That is until his class turn on him.

The Review
The winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival should definitely come with a health warning prior to viewing. It should warn all potential teachers to avoid watching the film, as once they watch it, they're likely to be put off teaching for life. They should then be provided with an emergency copy of School of Rock and a tub of Ben and Jerry's.

The Class's original French title, Entre les murs, or Between The Walls, is probably a better title for the film, as the classroom at its centre serves as a cauldron of clashes, not only between the teacher and his 24 students, but between the students themselves. During the school year, there are many ups and downs, with the cauldron continuing to bubble and boil over at certain points. What makes the film all the more brilliant is that this could be any class, in any school.

François Bégaudeau has the real life experience, having written a book on his time in the classroom and this comes across in his performance in the lead role. He is an idealist, constantly pushing the boulder up the hill, simply for it to continue slipping back down. The use of real students, teachers and parents also adds to the authenticity of the film.

The Verdict
A lesson in conflict and communication, The Class has much to teach us about education and attitudes towards it.
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on 23 December 2009
A very good film to watch. Unlike other reviewers, I didn't find this at all ponderous or too talky. Instead, it was thought provoking and scarily accurate. Although a primary teacher, there were still many scenes which struck a chord e.g. the pupils' apparent disinclination to learn, the awkwardness of parents' evening and the powerlessness of teachers to understand the viewpoint of their students. Particularly scary is one of the final scenes when a pupil confesses that she has understood nothing and the teacher can only utter useless platitudes.

The film offers no solutions to the underlying conflict between teachers and pupils. There is no Hollywood-type ending and the film is all the better for it.

I had a few problems with the translated subtitles and would have appreciated subtitles in French to understand some of the slang the children used.

Highly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 January 2014
Superb docu-drama, filmed in a real school in the outskirts of Paris, whose pupils are largely of immigrant background; the teenage actors are drawn from the actual school, and are utterly convincing as the giggling, fighting, loudmouth class to whom Monsieur Marin must teach French.
Issues crop up in the course of the school year which make the viewer stop and pause. The teacher's 'crime' of using an insulting word to his students is hushed up ('refer to it, but very briefly, in your report') whereas the disciplinary hearing on a student goes ahead - despite his mother speaking no French, and the very real chance of his father sending him back to Mali.
There are no easy answers - on the last day of school, when each student relates what s/he has learned that year, one approaches the teacher afterwards to sadly say she's learnt nothing. We don't know why; is she illiterate? is her French poor? All teacher can do is remind her she's got another year till vocational school, but as we realise, that's going to make no difference.
Compelling viewing, which I really enjoyed.
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VINE VOICEon 4 December 2010
I didn't know whether this film was a documentary or a drama, it turns out that it's the latter, but its appeal is that it feels like reality and evokes the dilemmas and problems experienced by teachers in a secondary school.

It's long, but I stuck with it and it's very satisfying. I don't know how they managed to act it so beautifully, the teacher, Mr Marin, is superb. You really get into his shoes and feel his idealism and his frustration. You see when he makes a mistake by calling two pupils- petasses - and you can see the trouble that's coming. I also enjoyed the perspective on teaching children from many different cultures. Also, it's a great way to refresh your French as there is loads of dialogue which is clear and engaging.
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on 17 July 2009
I had been looking forward to seeing this film since first hearing about its achievements at Cannes in 2008. The story is loosely based on the book "Entre Les Murs" - between the walls, François Marin is a teacher in a school for special needs / wayward and disadvantaged children, many of them from France's overseas territories or former colonies.

The first hour or so the film develops well, introducing the main protagonists and the inevitable tensions between them all starting to build - François's frustrations at their inattention to his teachings, the student's frustrations at his inability to empathise and defend them against bad behaviour charges, the frictions of a new boy from the West Indies arriving and clashing with the existing top student dog from Mali, the risk of the class itself turning the tables on the teacher and seeing him expelled from the school.... you have the feeling that the film is building to a crescendo.

I don't want to spoil the movie for others by revealing the end, but all I will say is that, as is so typically the case with some modern 'art house' French cinema, there seems to be a huge reticence to leave anything on the cutting room floor. The scene where the teachers were voting on the future of Souleymane is verging on OTT as the camera follows the transparent ballot box around the teachers and they drop in their folded voting slips. I expect the director may believe there is huge visual metaphor in that - the 'supposed transparency yet closedness' of the school disciplinary process, but I found it laboured and pretentious. And disappointingly, after about 75 minutes in, this is how the films goes, overly ponderous and lingering.

Don't get me wrong - it's a decent film, but one I'd rather have watched lounging around in the comfort of my own home on DVD, when I could have pressed pause and interspersed it with a few shots of Absinthe, not a film to sit for two hours plus upright in a cinema auditorium. In brief - would have benefited from better editing. 6.5/10.0
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VINE VOICEon 17 October 2011
The High School film where an idealistic young teacher meets up with a bunch of tough kids is a well worn genre. In many of these films the teacher battles against their pupils and wins them over at the end so that they achieve their potential. Such endings are often sentimental and a little simplistic. Not so with this assured French film.

The film opens with staff at a multi-racial Parisian school welcoming new colleagues. They helpfully go through the class lists with the new teachers, pointing out who's nice and who isn't ('gentil, pas gentil, pas, pas, pas). Francois the protagonist of this film has been teaching there for four years and has worked out a modus operandi with the pupils, pushing them to their intellectual limit, bantering with them but never giving in. It seems to work. But this year things start to go wrong. He has a major fall out with one pupil who claims he picks on her, another pupil, Souleymane, causes grief to many of the teachers, and the mouthy Esmeralda is a major pain in the neck.

Many things were surprising in the film. The lessons on French grammar, which seemed way above the level of anything taught to 14/15 year olds in comprehensives here were illuminating. The pseudo democracy which led to parents being at teachers' meetings (including a disciplinary hearing) but having no effective say in anything. Most of all, the inclusion of pupils in a meeting where other pupils' behaviour and progress was discussed was a little unbelievable and I do wonder if this actually happens in France. It seems to me to be completely unethical to discuss such things when pupils are present and it was no surprise that it led to the disastrous outcome that it did.

Overall, a thought provoking, funny and moving film. A must see.
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