New Movies -
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Old Movies -
Touki Bouki: The Journey of the Hyena
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry
Recap: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 , 2005, 2006, 2007 , 2008 , 2009 , 2010 , 2011 , 2012
The Class (Laurent Cantet, 2008)
Similarly, The Class is too unsubtle in its highlighting of the differences in the social class of its teachers and students. Whether the characters are discussing grammar, their choice of reading material, the specter of class conflict is completely inescapable at every moment. This surely is a relevant issue for teachers in such a situation, but the incessant underlining of difference stops feeling astute after a while. Even as the film switches modes to become more urgently obsessed with such issues, there’s precious little development of its class understanding. The Class merely reinforces the perception of otherness, suggesting that the entire educational system encourages and perpetuates it.
François Bégaudeau wrote The Class’ screenplay based loosely on his life experience as a teacher and plays the lead. The film is meant to be a self-critical corrective, but it’s ultimately self-serving, suggesting that teaching in a mixed race French school is a feat worthy of beatification. Bégaudeau spends plenty of time pointing out personal foibles, yet never truly challenges his own authority or suggests that he might be a harmful presence. The final sequence improbably invokes Plato’s Republic, suggesting that what we’ve just watched has been a series of Socratic dialogues. That’s a self-serving proposition, and one that completely ignores the imbalance of power that has existed in the classroom throughout the film. It’s so foolhardy that one suspects it might be meant ironically, but nothing Cantet’s filmography supports the notion that he might prize irony over social realism. Certainly, little that has come before in The Class, which primarily consists of glib arguments, good intentions, and dubious caricatures of the people it hopes to portray, suggests subversion. Nonetheless, it’s a strong testament to its crowd-pleasing nature that I’d begrudgingly recommend the movie in spite of its conceptual and ideological shortcomings.