Thursday, July 30, 2009

Classy Cantet

ImageThe Class (Sony)

Through three features (Human Resources, Time Out, Heading South), French director Laurent Cantet is an astute chronicler of socially relevant character studies. For The Class, Cantet enters a Parisian classroom to chronicle one teacher’s attempts to get through to his inner-city students. An actual teacher, Francois B├ęgaudeau–on whose book The Class is based–plays a fictionalized version of himself, as do other adults and students. Closely resembling a documentary, the film is an ultra-realistic exploration of the shifting of morals and mores in French culture. Regrettably missing is a personalizing of these people, since we only see them at school–still, The Class is another finely-detailed film from a first-rate director. This isn’t a disc to show off the wonders of Blu-ray technology, but its documentary-like photography looks very good, which adds another layer of “reality” to the film. Although Sony doesn’t duplicate the absolutely loaded French release, for a foreign film on Blu-ray, the extras are terrific: along with the making-of featurette and scene commentary by Cantet and B├ęgaudeau, there are two exclusive Blu-ray bonuses—an Actors’ Workshop and Actors’ Self-Portraits, which give insight into the excellent amateur performers playing the students.

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