CAST: Francois Begaudeau, Nassim Amrabt, Laura Baquela, Cherif Bounaidja Rachedi, Juliette Demaille, Dalla Doucoure, Arthur Fogel, Damien Gomes, Louise Grinberg, Qifei Huang, Wei Haung, Franck Keita

DIRECTOR: Laurent Cantet

SCREENWRITERS: Francois Begaudeau, Laurent Cantet and Robin Campillo












In 2006, Francois Begaudeau published “Entre les Murs,” a well-reviewed novel based on his rocky relationship with a group of hardened but vulnerable students in a junior high school on the outskirts of Paris. Tenacious in his effort to teach his largely emigrant class the fine points of the French language, the dynamic, idealistic Begaudeau also sought to provide them with enough smarts to blend into a notably unwelcoming society. But, as this adaptation of “Entre Les Murs”--co-written by Begadeau, director Laurent Cantet and Robin Campillo--makes rivetingly clear, the young teacher, in his dogged pursuit of excellence, pushed too hard and learned a lesson he would forever carry with him.

Astonishingly, director Cantet, of “Human Resources” fame, spent an entire academic year improvising, writing, rehearsing and filming with real-life students who had emigrated from Africa, Asia, Latin America and other parts of the world. These inexperienced, exceedingly trusting actors dipped deep into the well of their experience and crafted fictionalized versions of themselves and, in the process, apparently learned liberating truths about their own lives. Capturing moments of courage, humor and rage, Cantet’s classroom scenes are extraordinarily vivid and teeming with tension. We feel the shock the teacher and his students feel as they watch seemingly harmless conversations and incidents
swiftly build from playfulness to defiance to open rebellion.

Not one of the budding, soul-baring actors here ever seems to be acting. Each is triumphantly real, funny, sad and unforgettable. Equally amazing, the actor playing the teacher who attempts to balance the roles of disciplinarian and good buddy is author Francois Begaudeau, the man who called “The Class” to order in the first place. And, yes, the man is a natural and might well turn out to be the next Mathieu Amalric.

This gripping, provocative, beautifully realized film fully deserved the Palme d’Or it received at the 2008 Cannes Festival. It goes immediately to the head of the class.