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The Class 2009 PG-13 CC

(111) IMDb 7.5/10
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The Class (2008 Academy Award Nominee, Best Foreign Language Film) follows the year in the life of a French schoolteacher working at a high school in a tough neighborhood of Paris. Cultures and attitudes often clash in the classroom. As amusing and inspiring as the teenage students can be, their difficult behavior can still jeopardize any teacher's enthusiasm for the low-paying job. Insisting ...

François Bégaudeau, Agame Malembo-Emene
2 hours, 10 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

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Product Details

Genres Drama, International
Director Laurent Cantet
Starring François Bégaudeau, Agame Malembo-Emene
Supporting actors Angélica Sancio, Arthur Fogel, Boubacar Toure, Burak Özyilmaz, Carl Nanor, Cherif Bounaïdja Rachedi, Dalla Doucoure, Damien Gomes, Esmeralda Ouertani, Eva Paradiso, Henriette Kasaruhanda, Juliette Demaille, Justine Wu, Rachel Regulier, Laura Baquela, Louise Grinberg, Lucie Landrevie, Nassim Amrabt
Studio Sony Pictures Classics
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 24 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Chris Pandolfi on February 27, 2009
The first thing director Laurnet Cantet did right when making "The Class (Entre les Murs)" was asking the author of the original novel, François Bégaudeau, to write the film's screenplay. He then went a step further and cast Bégaudeau as the teacher, M. Marin, which is only fitting since his novel is a semi-autobiographical account of his experiences as a literature teacher in a Parisian inner-city middle school. "The Class" is telling a story, yet it often feels as authentic as a documentary, not just because the actors are incredibly convincing, but also because it has been stripped of traditional cinematic embellishments. There are no special effects or elaborate camera tricks. There isn't even a basic musical score. There are just the actors and the classroom set, and we're watching the events naturally unfold.

I suspect most Western audiences will respond to this movie, despite the fact that it takes place in France. It tackles issues many students and teachers will find relatable, not the least of which is the sense that bridging the gap between student and teacher is sometimes impossible. Marin starts the semester with the hope that he will connect with his multiracial students, who live in urban areas and come from lower income families. But as time goes on, he slowly realizes that they don't want to connect with him. I got the sense that neither side was able to see the opposing point of view; Marin has a hard time understanding why his students don't want to learn, whereas the students have a hard time understanding why Marin wants them to conform.

Take, for example, the fact that one of Marin's lessons covers sentence structure, which involves highly confusing terms like "imperfect predicate," or something along those lines.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By VINE VOICE on February 18, 2009
"The Class (Entre Les Murs)", France's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year, is an interesting, insightful, almost Cinema Verite look at one teacher and one class of his students in a high school in a Paris suburb.

Based on a book by the film's star, Francois Begadeau, about his own experiences as a teacher, the film concentrates on Francois' French class in a high school in a tough suburb of Paris.

But director Laurence Cantet focuses the film even further, heightening the documentary feel of the story. We focus on one group of students in one of Francois' classes. These students are a melting pot of ethnicities, all trying to learn in the same environment even though they are clearly at different levels. So Francois' job involves just trying to communicate with and maintain discipline with his students. Interestingly, each of the actors plays an eponymous student. I don't a lot about the background or history of the story behind this film, but this fact leads me to believe that each actor is playing a fictionalized version of himself or herself.

As the school year begins, Francois arrives at his school to find char women cleaning the rooms. He begins to prepare and then meets with the other teachers. They go around the group, introducing themselves to each other, identifying the new teachers and the department chairs, offering welcome and help coping with the school year. Later, we see a teacher pointing out the good and bad students to a newbie, helping them sort out who will be trouble. This is the first moment when I really connected with the story and felt the film was going to show us an in-depth look at the French education system. Before this moment, everything looks and feels too perfect, too clean, too idyllic and well prepared.
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Format: DVD
I knew absolutely nothing about this film - other than it was in French and won the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. I wanted to approach it with no pre-conceptions. After watching the 2 hour, 10-minute film on DVD I then read the background. I knew it was not a documentary but I wasn't aware that the teacher was the author of the original book upon which the film was based, and that he also wrote the screenplay. The students seemed to be too realistic to be professional actors. (And they aren't; they are actual students at the school.). I stuck with the film, waiting for a solution or happy ending (like Mr. Holland's Opus" or "Stand and Deliver") but it never came. At first I was disappointed , but then - after thinking about it - I realized that this is "real life" (it was based on an actual class) and it was just as much an experiment in filmmaking (using the teacher/author and the student/actors) as an entertainment film.

I won't go in to the details of the film - another reviewer, Chris Pandolfi, has done that already - but will comment on the DVD version, which I do recommend. First off, the subtitles are clear and probably the largest font I've seen in a while and are in the black bar below the screen (except, oddly at one point where a few sentences appear ABOVE the picture) , making them easy to read. The DVD also allows you to scan back to a section you may have missed. The bonus features include a 40-minute "making of" featurette and two brief scenes with commentary by the director and star/author. All of these are in French with subtitles. The "Making of" adds to appreciating the film even more, but watch it AFTER you have seen the film; not before.

If you are an educator, you will find this film food for thought. If you are a parent of high school aged students you will find this "real", even though it takes place in a multi-cultural school in France.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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