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The Class 

Oscar-nominated classroom film avoids Dangerous Minds syndrome.

Shot tight like a documentary, rarely straying outside the classroom, Laurent Cantet’s Oscar-nominated The Class straddles a fine line between reality and fiction. Former teacher François Bégaudeau, who also wrote the screenplay and the book upon which this fantastic film is based, plays François Marin, a jocular high school teacher in a working-class Parisian neighbourhood. His students, an overwhelming mix of ethnicities and childhood experiences, are non-actors as well, and it's real anger that spills over their lessons on verb conjugations. Hollywood films about inner-city schools generally fall prey to the Dangerous Minds’ teacher-as-saviour syndrome. But in one compelling scene when Marin probes into the life of a student whose behaviour has changed over the summer, there’s a quiet, mutual acknowledgment of their relationship’s inherent limitations.

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Vol 24, No 33
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