A war movie that happens to take place in a nursery school in northern France, this is wrenching, unpatronising social conscience cinema. Daniel (Torreton) is the embattled headteacher, fighting to do the best by his kids in a former mining community - a job that's tantamount to social work. Daniel's convictions are fiercely and unapologetically socialist, and Tavernier plunges us into the life of the school without pause. Using the documentary-style Steadicam technique of his policier L.627, Tavernier conveys the stimulation, the inspiration, and the frustration of teaching, as well as the limitless demands it makes on the teacher's compassion. Torreton is intense and dynamic, persuading us of Daniel's anger at a post-socialist political agenda and a quieter, poetic sensibility. It's Ken Loach territory, and like Loach, not beyond melodrama - Daniel's crisis of faith is linked to the fate of an alcoholic mother and an abused child - but also like Loach, too salutary to be fobbed off with condescension. Some critics have found the ending over-optimistic, but after the many troubled parental relationships in Tavernier's films, from The Watchmaker of Saint-Paul, through 'Round Midnight to These Foolish Things, this precious affirmation is surely merited.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Dominique Sampiero, Tiffany Tavernier, Bertrand Tavernier|