The Class

Critics Consensus

Energetic and bright, this hybrid of documentary style and dramatic plotting looks at the present and future of France through the interactions of a teacher and his students in an inner city high school.



Total Count: 158


Audience Score

User Ratings: 12,566
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Movie Info

François is a tough but fair teacher working in one of France's toughest schools, and his honest demeanor in the classroom has made him a great success with the students. But this year things are different, because when the students begin to challenge his methods François will find his classroom ethics put to the ultimate test. François Bégaudeau stars in director Laurent Cantet's entry into the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi


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Critic Reviews for The Class

All Critics (158) | Top Critics (51) | Fresh (151) | Rotten (7)

  • But ultimately it's a fascinating, sometimes exhilarating movie that seems to make a genuine contact with the classroom, and shows us an educational system struggling, and managing, to survive.

    Aug 23, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Cantet's film lulls the spectator into the rhythms of the everyday reality of school, belying a very carefully coordinated narrative structure that only becomes apparent in its final act.

    Aug 8, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Most impressive, Cantet tracks the racial and ethnic resentments that simmer beneath the classroom discussions but become harder to quell when the parents get involved.

    Mar 13, 2009 | Full Review…
  • The film raises important questions about learning, authority and discipline, and is honest enough to admit that it doesn't really have any answers.

    Mar 6, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • The Class, an Oscar-nominated French film about a Paris middle school, should be required viewing for anybody considering a career in teaching.

    Mar 4, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • The fact that it's based on a book written by a former teacher who also stars in the film gives it more than a bit of authenticity

    Feb 27, 2009 | Rating: A | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Class

  • Jun 25, 2013
    One of the most valuable and relevant life lessons that my University has taught me is the purpose of education itself. Education is a dialogue between equals, in which the professor is obligated to lower himself to the intellectual level of his students, "lower" not in the sense of superiority, but of capacity and experience. This dialogue consists in sharing the pieces of truth that every single individual, students and teachers alike, have gathered in their lives. "You give me your truth. I give you my truth. Together, let's construct a more complete truth". I reiterate, such is the purpose of education. <i>Entre les Murs</i> succeeds in every single aspect that <i>The Freedom Writers</i> (2007) sucked at: realism, seriousness, accuracy of the classroom conflicts and an even higher accuracy in portraying the students' behavior (it was shockingly realistic and with high attention to detail), the entire educational debate issue seen from the perspective of the students, the parents and the internal disciplinary committees. Multicultural diversity with unknown personal backgrounds of the students is an increasing challenge in today's education and it cannot be solved magically, like Hollywood solved it, of course, with Mrs. "Pretty-Actress-With-Inspirational-Smile-And-Clichéd-Dialogues" Hilary Swank in the lead role. Here, we have the true testimony of a person that realizes the weight of his social role as an educator (and, therefore, as a transmitter of values) and attempts to create awareness of such relevant worldwide issue through a novel and now a film. Notice that education is a responsibility. Teaching is the most noble profession of them all, in my honest opinion; unfortunately, it is the worst paid. Nevertheless, it requires the active participation and the INTEREST of the parents and a consensus of the scholar committees. In this film, the committee had pretty dumb people that had no idea what they were talking about, apart from the fact that François crossed the line insulting his female students, which is not justifiable under any circumstance. I just have one complaint. Fictionalizing that Esmeralda had read Plato's Republic was idiotic, and her explanation was atrocious. I deeply recommend to read The Republic and deeply criticize it. Do not buy the argument given here. 82/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • May 17, 2013
    The Class is an honest, heartfelt and consistently entertaining portrayal that maintains a level of realism that will keep its viewers constantly reminding themselves that they're not watching a documentary -- it's difficult to think of much higher praise to heap on the film than that.
    Isaac H Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2012
    Based on the novel and true story of teacher Francois Begaundeau about teaching in a French high school. So realistic, it almost seems like a documentary.
    Juli R Super Reviewer
  • Feb 16, 2011
    Francois Begaudeau's memoir/novel about teaching in inner city Paris provides the basis for <i>The Class</i>, which inventively combines the best of the documentary and classic drama genres. The film is the result of numerous improvisation exercises with a mix of real students and young actors; many of the characters' first names are the actors' first names. The effect is a film that perfectly renders the classroom experience. I would find it difficult to believe someone who said s/he didn't feel what it is like to be in that classroom. From a thematic perspective, <i>The Class's</i> American counterparts are <i>Dangerous Minds</i> and <i>Freedom Writers</i>, but these films often deploy the teacher-as-savior motif that characterizes much of how teachers are portrayed in cinema. In these films the teacher becomes a moral coach before s/he concentrates on course content. S/he is teacher-as-inspiration before teacher-as-teacher. But this motif is not deployed in <i>The Class</i>. Though we certainly have moments when Marin delves into a moral tangent, I cannot say that he emerges as the unquestioned hero in the way that protagonists in other films do. And if the film questions the protagonist, it does so subtly. In fact, toward the beginning, educator to educator, I couldn't tell what he was doing wrong. Oftentimes the film is quite bleak, portraying student resistance in realistic and dramatically compelling ways. And though by the end of the film, we're left wondering how education is even possible, there is a measure of hope in the realization that the system of pedagogy is generally sound, that students are generally well-meaning and capable, and that somehow many people emerge from the morass of adolescence and structured schooling as predominantly well-adjusted individuals. Overall, <i>The Class</i> is a remarkable film that proves beyond a doubt that teaching is the hardest job on the planet.
    Jim H Super Reviewer

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