Refreshing film about the trials and tribulations of infant schools
Jean-Marie Bigard plays the part of a "Dirlo", familiar term for the head of an infant school normally called "Le Directeur". Amongst the pupils is Lucie, daughter of a poor one-parent family of Italian descent living locally. Lucie's brother is no longer at school and is up to no good, more of a petty criminal than anything else. Lucie is influenced by her older brother and resorts to stealing in supermarkets etc etc. All the teachers and academic inspectors in the school are convinced that Lucie will never come to any good ; however, Jean-Marie Bigard, is equally convinced that she has hidden talents and will defend her to the end in front of everyone else ! The subject matter is of course banal, but believe me, this is a very refreshing film to watch, not least because of the personality of Jean-Marie Bigard. In fact, the latter's reputation belies his true qualities. He is known throughout France as a stand-up comedian, often resorting to vulgar or even scatological jokes. True this may be, but once outside this domain, he is an excellent speaker with very good diction, accent and level of vocabulary. I am sure that this man with time will become more and more popular across France. The same thing happened with the late Michel Colucci or "Coluche" who whilst alive was considered "vulgar" and "uncouth" and since the poor devil died in a motorcycle accident in 1986, he has become an object of cult worship - his sketches and films have become the object of countless DVD's and the "Restos or Restaurants du Coeur" ( Free meal for the poor ) have survived to this day. Bigard has little experience as an actor but his natural, sincere personage exudes honesty, even if he appears a little gruff and unrefined and as I said, his diction is wonderful. In fact I would actually recommend foreign students of the French language to listen to him. In this film, he is torn between his ex-wife, who in addition to being the school inspector, tries to make life as hard for him as possible, his fellow teachers, the maintenance man at the school and a newly employed female school psychiatrist who has the hots for him but is equally jealous of his ex wife. With all this going on, plus the problems of little Lucie, the spectator can only but sympathise with the plight of the poor JM Bigard. The film is light comedy, with plenty of spontaneous acting by the kids at the school and the music is also catchy. For this reason, I give it a very positive rating even if in truth it is no great work of cinematic art !
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