Class, The
PG-13
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +2

Francois Begaudeau. Drama/foreign. Directed by Laurent Cantet.

FILM SYNOPSIS: François and his fellow teachers prepare for a new year at a high school in a tough neighborhood. Armed with the best intentions, they brace themselves to not let discouragement stop them from trying to give the best education to their students. Cultures and attitudes often clash in the classroom, a microcosm of contemporary France. As amusing and inspiring as the teenaged students can be, their difficult behavior can still jeopardize any teacher's enthusiasm for the low-paying job. François insists on an atmosphere of respect and diligence. Neither stuffy nor severe, his extravagant frankness often takes the students by surprise. But his classroom ethics are put to the test when his students begin to challenge his methods...

PREVIEW REVIEW: More an informative study in modern day teaching than a pleasant night at the movies, The Class teaches us about the microcosm of the high school classroom. You begin to understand the dedication a teacher must have and you suddenly realize that today’s kids aren’t stupid, a trait stamped upon them thanks to the depiction of youth in most movies. These youngsters are actually quite intelligent, but due to the influences of the techno world of amusement that mush up their minds, they have yet to learn how to apply their knowledge. The main obstacle the educator comes up against is a belligerent attitude from nearly all of his students. The film showcases how kids of today have not been taught the rule of respecting your elders. We also learn of the deviousness of a young female, and how uncontrolled a male teenager’s wrath can be. Both are frightening, because they do not consider the consequences of their actions. There is also a lesson about how destructive temper and inappropriate words can be, especially when coming from the instructor. This is an interesting comment the film is making considering how unguarded most filmmakers are when writing dialogue for today’s movies.

The film is insightful and though over two hours in length, it flows along with a nice pace. It’s worth seeing because The Class is smart and signals the standards of today and how crudity and disrespect are defining a generation. Of course, the film would also suggest, maybe without the filmmaker’s intent, that by removing God and spiritual matters from the teaching process, a society can only slump further into a depressed state.

DVD Alternative: The Chorus (Les Choristes). This 2004 French/Swiss film (PG, with subtitles – sorry ‘bout that) from Christophe Barratier is an emotional, music-filled tale about how a very humble man’s simple dreams changed the future for a forgotten group of children.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Summary
Crude Language: A couple of crude comments from the students, but not excessive as in most films about youth.
Obscene Language: Around 15 objectionable words – the s- and f-words.
Profanity: One profane use of God’s name.
Violence: A student loses his temper, pushing a teacher and accidentally hitting a fellow student. Several verbal arguments.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct:
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other:
Running Time: 128 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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