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Pedro Armendáriz Jr.
With this movie, Gérard Lauzier decided to broach a particularly delicate topic on a comedy tone: difficult suburbs in France. But for me, his movie isn't really successful for two main reasons.
First, it reminded me a lot of "Dangerous Minds" (1995) starring Michele Pfeiffer. The less we can say is that here, Gérard Depardieu has a lot of common points with the quoted actress and seems to be the hero of a Hollywood screenplay, at a professional level as well as a private level. Concerning the professional level: although, Depardieu looks like a big and strong man it is hard to see him trying to impose discipline on his students and sometimes,I believe that the methods he uses to tame his students aren't really pedagogical. For example, he invites the best elements in his own flat so that they can study in peace! Then, the end turns out to be disappointing because too much conventional. Indeed, he was to take a new post in another school but because he learned to like his students, he decides to stay in his former school.
Now at the private level. We learn that Depardieu is an estranged husband and he reveals to one of his colleagues that if he chose a tough school it is because he wants to get closer to his children (how new it is!) but he tries to reconcile with his wife. But in the meantime, he also wants to seduce one of his colleagues. These characteristics enable to foresee the main fault of the film...
And the main fault of the movie is of course, the clichés! In Lauzier's movie, they take the form of a total spreading and they are linked to these suburbs' main problems: racism, racket, tags, violence, academic failure, chador. In short, everything is here! It is also to be noted that a few characters are really caricatured. The perfect example is Daniel Prévost as the racist neighbor.
These permanent faults end up spoiling the movie. All right, there are funny situations like the birthday sequence (the music used for this scene regularly appears again throughout the movie and it creates quite amusing moments). But because these situations are either too easy too predictable, they can hardly save this movie. All in all, there's few originality in this comedy that exploits properly its ideas but without great surprises.
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