This is a side of France most Americans have never seen. It takes place in the classroom of a rough Paris High School, a world apart from the chic areas of central Paris where tourists spend most of their time.
In the class of dedicated teacher Mr. Marin, social tension between different cultures unfolds through quick dialogue. The students are from places such as China, Morocco, Mali and Tunisia. The teacher tries to break through their walls so he can teach them proper French, which will prepare them to become successful members of French society. He also has to teach them discipline and a sense of respect for authority.
One of the things that struck me about the French school system was the liberal relationship between teachers and students. The contrasts between the way things are handled in a Paris high school as opposed to an American one become apparent while watching “The Class”. As a guy who went through the Detroit school system, it was interesting for me to note the differences.
I like the cinema verite style here. Unlike Hollywood films, which usually provide a resolved ending, this film leaves one pondering the future of these teens and French society itself. – Will Bradford