The Class 

As much about French social attitudes as it is about the country’s education system, Laurent Cantet’s film looks at the multicultural dimensions of one public high-school teacher’s class. French instructor François Marin (François Bégaudeau, who also wrote the screenplay and the book upon which the film is based) teaches class of mostly poor students from the inner city, many of whom have recently emigrated from Africa. As a result, simple exercises like writing personal biographies often become contentious. It’s hard to get a handle on François; at one point he’s a sympathetic student ally, at another he hurls mean-spirited insults at two female students. And yet that’s part of what makes this documentary-like movie so compelling. Cedar Lee Theatre. HHH

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