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The Workshop

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
El taller de escritura

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

‘The Class’s Laurent Cantet returns with another acutely observed drama full of the gentle rhythms and tensions of French life.

French filmmaker Laurent Cantet worked wonders with mouthy, sparring teenagers in 2008’s quickfire schoolroom drama ‘The Class’ (which won the top prize at Cannes). He’s back on similar ground for this unusual, reflective drama set in and around a writers’ workshop for unemployed young adults in southern France. These budding writers – not all of them with their minds on the job – give us an unforced insight into post-Bataclan French youth, as their sparky banter touches on inequality, prejudice and opportunities (or the lack of them) in their hometown, the once-bustling industrial port of La Ciotat, near Marseille.

Opinions aren’t in short supply, and novelist-teacher Olivia (Marina Foïs) keeps the peace as one hot-headed student, Antoine (Matthieu Lucci), clashes with the others. As the teens debate what does and doesn’t make a good thriller, a real one emerges – one based on the messy desires and impulses of real life. Appropriately, given the workshop theme, there’s something about Cantet’s film (co-written with his regular collaborator Robin Campillo, writer-director of ‘120 BPM’) that feels like an essay on storytelling and life, where the two cross over and even blur into one. The opening images in the film are from a first-person shooter video game, while classroom chat about guns in stories finds echoes later on in the narrative of the film itself. There are loose threads of ideas here and perhaps the layering of the film’s different levels of storytelling isn’t fully subtle or realised. But it’s an always lively and original film.

Dave Calhoun
Written by
Dave Calhoun

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Friday 16 November 2018
  • Duration:113 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Laurent Cantet
  • Screenwriter:Robin Campillo, Laurent Cantet
  • Cast:
    • Marina Fois
    • Matthieu Lucci
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