The Class

The Class/Entre les murs (France, 2008, 128 mins.): Entre les murs , the Cannes 2008 Palme d'Or winner, enthralls because it touches a raw nerve: it challenges the very ideals and politics of educational philosophy by exploring in a very authentic fashion the day-to-day challenges of teaching in a French high school classroom. François Bégaudeau, the author of the novel upon which the film is based, plays the French language teacher François Marin, whose sincere concern for his students is being tested by the bureaucracy of the education system, the politics of multicultural France, and the youthful resistance of his charges. The human failings of both teacher and students come to bear on classroom tensions in one final moment of weakness, igniting an explosive conflict that exposes in a painful way a flawed system that ironically marginalizes those which it supposedly aims to rescue. Director Laurent Cantet's use of a documentary visual approach stages effectively the immediacy of the classroom power struggles, making this film a wrenching but necessary film for those of us in the business of education to watch.

Synopsis by Kenneth Chan