The Class Review – Must Watch French Award Winner

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.

Lovely Film

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 Keïta) 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.

A Weakness

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. 😉

10 Responses to "The Class Review – Must Watch French Award Winner"

  1. wouldn’t the plural be mooncalves? Responds:

    Mooncalfs is not incorrect.

    Calfs is an accepted plural form for calf. Source: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition P.174

  2. raghavendrav   September 28, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I will add this to my Netflix Queue.. btw the movie ‘Earam’ is a mess.. It starts off well and later turns out to be a clutter…

    Moral of the Story: Never trust reviews from and…. Responds:

    After the Villu review, we take the Sify reviews with a pinch of salt. Excerpt from Sify review of Villu:

    If you’re looking to chill out this Pongal, try Villu. It is the mother of all masalas. Ranging through a wide field of comedy, action, songs, exotic locations and heavy sentiments, the film will appeal to a cross spectrum of audiences.

    What works in its favour is the star cast, packaging and look of the film.

    It is the most stylish Vijay film ever made.Villu is technically slick and moves at a rapid pace.

    Ha ha ha.

  3. boopalanj   September 28, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    The Class?

    Would check out Big Flix.

    Btw, am going to watch “The Good, The bad, and the Ugly”..

    Have you watched “The Great Dictator” from Chaplin? If not, I recommend you do so.

    Kamal’s dasavatharam can’t even stand in front of Chaplin’s double roles. You do not believe, both are Chaplins. Such is the difference in body language, speaking style and behavior between two characters. Had it not been for those comical scenes, We would not believe they are Chaplins. Whatever Kamal could not accomplish even by wearing different masks, Chaplin has easily achieved. Certainly a landmark film it is. Responds:

    1. You write: Btw, am going to watch “The Good, The bad, and the Ugly”..

    Il buono, Il cattivo, Il brutto a.k.a. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is a lovely movie. A film you can watch again and again and again without feeling any ennui.

    We purchased the Ennio Morricone music score of the movie from Apple iTunes.

    2. Will watch Great Dictator in a week or so. The movie’s a classic.

    Lunch= Pavakkai curry 🙁

  4. mogambo   September 28, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    SI wrote: Il buono, Il cattivo, Il brutto a.k.a. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is a lovely movie. A film you can watch again and again and again without feeling any ennui.

    Great movie!

    It’s considered part of the “Man with No Name”/dollar trilogy. All 3 from Sergio Leone. I liked the other 2 dollar movies as well – “A fistful of dollars” and “For a few dollars more”.

    Another Western (not a spaghetti western) that I enjoyed watching was “Silverado”, which had great dialogues, scenic splendor and a star-studded cast that performed well. Responds:

    1. Boopalanj will surely enjoy The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (listening to Ennio Morricone’s music in the background…worth buying at 99-cents from iTunes).

    2.Added “A fistful of dollars” and “For a few dollars more” to our Netflix queue. Unfortunately, they are not available in Instant Play, which means we have to wait for the DVDs.

    However, Sergio Leone’s last movie Once Upon a Time in America is available on Instant play (in the original 229-minute version, not the reviled, truncated version).

    We’ll watch it in a little while.

  5. mogambo   September 28, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    As you wait for the Netflix DVDs, get a glimpse of the duel between Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood in the following clip from “For a few dollars more”

    and Ennio Morricone “scored” with this movie as well Responds:

    1. Hat duel was superb. Thanks. 🙂

    2. Morricone – Good here but doesn’t raise to the class of his work in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly .

    Listened twice so far. Must listen to it a few more times.

    Update: Superb score.

    Purchased a 3-CD collection of Ennio Morricone’s best works at Borders. Our favorite CDs.

    Read our Indian Restaurant Reviews: Anjappar, Dhaba, Rangoli, Palace of Jaipur

  6. suggests that “calfs” is the plural of the body part , but “calves” is the plural of the farm animal.. Responds:

    Let’s leave West Virginia University to the rednecks and head to the source: Merriam-Websters.

    Naan oru thadava sonna nooru thadava sonna mathiri 🙂

  7. from

    “Calfs” is actually an accepted spelling for the plural of the anatomical formation created by the human gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, so I would accept changing it to that spelling.

    this “innovation” is apparently to distinguish between the human calf and cattle calf.

    which is to distinguish between the computer mouse and the rodent.

    Don’t you agree? Responds:

    1. Your original point was that our use of the word mooncalfs was incorrect and that it should have been mooncalves.

    But as we’ve shown in our previous responses, nothing wrong with mooncalfs.

    2. On Mouses, Mouse & Mice, the link you provide seems fine to distinguish between the computer mouse and the rodent.

    3. On calfs and calves, our hypothesis is that the language is evolving toward calfs.

    Like dwarves seems to be slowly surrendering to dwarfs.

    In a few decades, calves could even become archaic.

  8. In my opinion those three authors get trumped by Pulitzer winner Gene Weingarten who is of the opinion that calfs ” is helpful to create a linguistic distinction between the human and animal kingdoms, when one can.”.. so it is acceptable only when used as the plural of the human body part..
    There is no conclusive proof either way

    Do you have the Oxford dictionary too? doesn’t list calves.. Looks like Calfs is an American thing. Responds:

    1. No, we don’t have the OED.

    We’ll check both mooncalfs and calfs in the big OED next time we go to the county or university library.

    2. But one thing is certain, use of mooncalfs is not wrong (the humble point we’d been making all along).

    3. Ultimately, we think it comes down to a matter of individual preference.

    Self-styled purists may prefer mooncalves or calves even as the world relentlessly marches toward calfs (just like dwarfs).

  9. I sent a mail to Dr. Rotella.. Apparently each publication has its own “iShtyle” sheet.. interesting.

    Should I explain to him (with my 2-bit English) why “calfs” is incorrect 🙂 I think the same “computer mouse” argument would hold good for the “mooncalfs” too, because we aren’t actually describing a calf here, but a human.

    “Carlo Rotella”

    Times style says it’s mooncalfs, just as it’s dwarfs, not dwarves (which came up once in a story I wrote for the Washington Post, which agrees with the Times on this one). Don’t ask me why, but that’s what the style sheet says. Personally, I think mooncalfs and dwarfs sounds better anyway. But the Times style sheet also says that the plural of calf is calves. Go figure. Responds:

    1. We are impressed. 🙂

    Did you really send a note to Rotella?

    We agree with Rotella that mooncalfs and dwarfs sound better. That’s most likely why we instinctively used mooncalfs (and not mooncalves) in the first place.

    2. With style-sheets, there’s no question of objecting. That’s the way it is.

    But keep in mind that style-sheets are not into neologisms. Their role is merely to pick one form/version and stick with it for the sake of consistency. The NYT stylesheet didn’t invent mooncalfs. NYT just picked it over mooncalves.

    3. You write: I think the same “computer mouse” argument would hold good for the “mooncalfs” too, because we aren’t actually describing a calf here, but a human

    True, but then English is an odd beast. The rules are not as universal as we’d like them to be.

  10. Did you really send a note to Rotella?

    Kaasa panama?! (nothing to lose).. seems like a nice guy and apparently as “vetti” as us.. Responds:


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