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Rated PG-13 · 2009
The power of director Laurent Cantet’s portrait of a Parisian junior-high-school teacher (brilliantly played by co-writer François Bégaudeau, adapting his novel) and his discontented students comes from its urgent documentary feel — it was actually scripted by the filmmakers after improv-workshopping the lines with their cast of young non-actors. The thrust of the piece is that these kids are much brighter and more engaged with the world than they’re given credit for. Standouts among the multi-cultural class are Franck Keïta (Souleymane), Esméralda Ouertani (Sandra), and Carl Nanor (Carl). The concept may seem simple and overworked, but the effect is overwhelming. French title: Entre les murs (128 min.).


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