Yeah, yeah, we know talking any sense into you schmucks is not a task for the faint hearted.
After all, y’all are the dolts that get their highs and kicks from watching sick movies. You know, the kind where a wrist-watch chants Om Mangalam from inside a stunt fighter’s stomach, a so-called ‘world hero’ performing 10 roles and most of them badly or a movie where a wife fails to recognize her husband because he’s shaved his mustache.
But no one ever accused us of not trying hard enough.
So in that spirit of educating all ye mooncalfs with your tongues stuck to the bottom of Shah Rukh Khan’s chappals or marveling at Akshay Kumar’s bizarre movies, we bring to your attention the existence of the fine French film The Class (2008).
Several weeks after we got the DVD from Netflix and after a few abortive attempts, we finally got around to watching The Class earlier today.
Again, in the spirit of educating the ignoratti, we must tell you The Class a.k.a Entre les murs was the winner of the Palme d’Or, the highest award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008.
A richly deserved award, we may add. It was also nominated for the Academy Awards (Oscars) in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Eschewing the familiar claptrap of love or action, The Class tackles a novel subject: a peek into the classroom of an inner-city Paris middle school.
Like any inner city school in the U.S., the Paris classroom too is diverse with students of different colors, races and abilities.
Stubbornly rebellious and mostly indifferent, the kids try the patience of all their teachers, particularly their French teacher Mr.Marin (played with elan by François Bégaudeau).
Bégaudeauu slips into the role easily and performs with aplomb as he navigates a class of noisy, indifferent kids who show scant respect for him.
Stern, insisting on discipline and respect from his students and often bitingly sarcastic, Bégaudeau doesn’t just show us how hard it’s inside these inner city school, he actually seems to invite us into the classroom.
Such is the finesse of this movie that not once did we feel we were watching it in the comfort of our living room, we felt we were right there inside the class alongside Esmeralda, Khoumba, Wei, Souleymane and the other kids.
It’s not just François Bégaudeau, who impressed us with his performance.
The students in the classrom, whether it’s Esmerelda (Esmeralda Ouertani), Khoumba (Rachel Regulier), Souleymane (Franck KeÃ¯ta) or those with lesser screen-time, were a pleasure to behold.
So natural. It’s possible that some of them are professional actors. We don’t know for sure.
Together (Mr. Marin and the students), they produce a realistic element of tension in the classroom that persists throughout the 2-hour 10-minute film.
One issue that could have been addressed at least briefly is why these inner city children are so defiant of authority, so indifferent in their studies and so confrontational in their attitudes.
By the way, the movie is based on François Bégaudeau’s novel of the same name, i.e. Entre les murs.
If you live in the U.S., you can rent The Class from Netflix.
Don’t worry if French is alien to you. The Class comes with English subtitles.
Sorry, no Hindi or Tamil subtitles. 😉