How do we learn to live with others and their wishes? Director Nicolas Philibert poses this question in a village schoolhouse in Auvergne, where Georges Lopez teaches 13 children, ages ranging from about four to 12. Against a landscape of mountains and farmland, from driving snow to rain to sun, the children gather in Lopez's warm and colorful classroom, to read, write dictation, cook, and sort things out. At home, the older ones do homework with parents after their chores. At year's end, they look ahead to the next, visiting the middle school and meeting the little ones coming in the fall. As they learn sums and adjectives, with Lopez's help, they also learn to live side by side. Written by
... and say that this is one of the warmest and most accomplished documentaries of the last few years. Deceptive simplicity is not the easiest thing to pull off but here it works perfectly. The thing is that there's no way to tell people who haven't seen it that a film that spans about six months in a one-room schoolhouse in the Auvergne with teacher and pupils being rather than playing themselves is so rewarding. Winter turns into Spring, Spring becomes early Summer. That's it. The changes in the pupils are less obvious, more felt than seen. The teacher, in his last year before retirement is far less academically gifted than Mr. Chips but he is Real as opposed to the fictional Chips and both are imbued with the hard-to-pin-down qualities that make good teachers. A second viewing, about a year later found the film holding up well. 9/10
30 of 38 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?