The Class

The Class / Entre les murs (2008) ****
I’m a little surprised Laurent Cantet’s 2008 Palme d’Or winner is just now coming to DVD, but then it lingered in theaters for nearly 6 months on the way to around $3.76 million at the US box office thanks to its Foreign Language Oscar nomination. That’s not too shabby for a film with subtitles, particularly one that doesn’t have a crowd-pleasing hook.

Instead of being plot heavy, The Class is an almost documentary-like look at a year in the life of a class of multi-racial Parisian high school students and their well-meaning teacher. The remarkable thing about it is the sense of realism and immediacy achieved by plopping a camera into the middle of the chaos and letting the story threads unfold. The performances by the teens don’t feel like performances at all. They either do a terrific job of improvisation, or an even better job of simply making it feel that way.

Though it doesn’t quite live up to expectations as a Palme d’Or winner, The Class is definitely better than Depatures, the film that beat it for the Oscar.

3 Responses to “Movies You May Have Missed: The Class”

  1. I really dug this film.

  2. I have taken my lumps for not loving this film, although I did give it 3 1/2 of 5. It seemed too talky and emotionally distancing, but few agree with me. i preferred DEPARTURES, but there are people out there who are trying to put me in the looney ward for that statement, including Lucille, who saw both and disagrees with me.

  3. Yeah I can’t get behind you on Departures, but I totally see where you’re coming from on The Class. When I first saw it I was left wondering “Is that IT?”

    But in retrospect it has grown on me.

    Departures just didn’t work for me. There were moments of great beauty but they were ruined for me by melodrama and that crazy Japanese sense of humor.

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