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Daniel is schoolmaster of a kindergarten in a small French town. The local economy, which depended entirely on coal production, has been mired in a depression ever since the mines were closed. When their parents fall into utter discouragement or even poverty because of prolonged unemployment, the children suffer the consequences. Daniel is confronted daily with difficult situations and he feels responsible to deal with them although they are outside the scope of his responsibilities. This is a frustrating task: politicians are concerned with tightening their budgets, bureaucrats in the intricate web of French social and educational services with their prerogatives, utility companies with getting their bills paid; teachers, social workers, and policemen are overwhelmed. Daniel's relations with his parents, but also with Valeria, his fiancée, and her son are not entirely smooth either. He nevertheless soldiers on with the staff of the kindergarten, all doing their best to educate the ...Written by
Eduardo Casais <firstname.lastname@example.org>
So we throw half in the trash, and see what we can do with the others?
It always happens. When things get tough, local, State, and the federal government save money on the backs of the poor first. Who, besides the poor suffer, the teachers, of course? This is a magnificent story of pre-school teachers coping with abuse, neglect, incest, and all forms of child abuse while the government agencies that are supposed to help just make excuses.
The school is falling apart and being broken into for food, and the school board, and the police do little or nothing to help. Families are coping with 34% unemployment and the resulting depression. Sound familiar? It is also happening all over America, not just in France.
The teacher training even tells new teachers that they will be social workers more than teachers. It is difficult to understand how learning can take place with children who are hungry, cold, and abused.
Philippe Torreton does an excellent job as Daniel Lefebvre in writer/director Bertrand Tavernier's film. His frustration and anger shows whether he is throwing out a child welfare worker or yelling at the Mayor for cutting lunches. All the while he has to deal with problems at home and his ailing father.
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