Teacher Marco Terzi (Placido) deliberately picks the short straw in the Italian educational lottery and chooses a posting to the Rosaspina reform school, home to Palermo's toughest delinquent youth. There he wins these hard nuts' hearts by setting them essays on love, letting them draw on him with felt tip pen, and snogging Mary the class transvestite to prove he's a real man. Before long, the boys are eating out of his hand; the authorities are, naturally, less enamoured. This is a fairly standard exercise in the boys-behind-bars genre, with all the usual ingredients - cruelty, camaraderie, and a surprisingly teasing attitude to the sodomy that never quite takes place. The main appeal lies in the honest, unshowy performances of the non-professional cast of real reform school alumni.