Writer/actor François Bégaudeau (left) goes to the head of The Class.
THE CLASS (Laurent Cantet) Rating: NNNNN
The European Film Festival kicks off at the Isabel Bader Theatre Sunday afternoon (November 16, 4 pm) with a major get: Laurent Cantet's Palme d'Or winner, Entre Les Murs, aka The Class, which quietly disappeared from this year's TIFF lineup when the New York Film Festival claimed it for its opening-night slot.
Blunt, nervy and brilliant, Cantet's drama about a teacher's interactions with his students in a Paris-area high school over the course of a year makes the laborious process of opening young minds seem both thrilling and terrifying.
It's a solid populist achievement for Cantet, whose previous films have been a little too cerebral for their own good. And it's a spectacular debut for star François Bégaudeau, who wrote the novel on which the film is based, co-wrote the screenplay with Cantet and Robin Campillo, and plays the fictional teacher, François Morin, coping with two dozen students who are by turns insolent, arrogant, entitled and even explosively violent.
Watching Bégaudeau/Morin deal with each new mini-crisis makes for some of the year's most suspenseful and immediate filmmaking. The Class is scheduled to open commercially in the new year, but there's no reason you need to wait that long to see it.
Also worth catching at the EU Fest: Danish black comedy The Art Of Crying (November 25, 6 pm, at Innis Town Hall; Rating: NNNN) and Steve McQueen's festival sensation, Hunger (November 28, 8:30 pm, at the Royal; Rating: NNNNN).