3 user 13 critic

School of Life (2017)

L'école buissonnière (original title)
In 1920s France an orphan is adopted by a rustic couple who work for a rural landowner. Left to himself, he soon comes under the spell of the local poacher.


Nicolas Vanier


Jérôme Tonnerre (adaptation), Jérôme Tonnerre (dialogue) | 4 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
François Cluzet ... Totoche
Jean Scandel Jean Scandel ... Paul
Eric Elmosnino ... Borel
François Berléand ... Le comte de la Fresnaye
Valérie Karsenti Valérie Karsenti ... Célestine
Thomas Durand Thomas Durand ... Bertrand
Ilona Cabrera Ilona Cabrera ... Bella
Frédéric Saurel Frédéric Saurel ... Dédé
Urbain Cancelier ... Lucien
Murielle Huet des Aunay Murielle Huet des Aunay ... Montaine
Thierry Robard Thierry Robard ... Armand
Carolina Jurczak ... Florence
Affif Ben Badra ... Le chef des gitans / The leader of the gypsies
Claudine Baschet Claudine Baschet ... La mémé gitane
Christine Joly Christine Joly ... Madeleine


Paris 1930. Paul always had only one and the same horizon: the high walls of the orphanage, a severe building on the outskirts of Paris. Entrusted to a cheerful lady of the countryside, Celestine and her husband, Borel, the somewhat rigid gamekeeper of a vast estate in Sologne, the child of the cities, recalcitrant and stubborn, arrives in a mysterious and worrying world, that of a sovereign and wild region. The immense forest, the misty ponds, the moors and the fields, everything here belongs to the Count of the Comte de La Salle. Fresnaye, a taciturn widower who lives alone in his mansion. The Count tolerates poachers on the estate, but Borel is relentlessly hunting them down and hounding the most cunning and elusive of them, Totoche. In the heart of the fairytale Sologne, next to the poacher, a great nature lover, Paul will learn about life but also the forest and its secrets. An even heavier secret weighs on the estate, because Paul did not come here by chance. Written by lament

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

1930s | woodland | orphan | orphanage | See All (4) »


Comedy | Drama | Family


G | See all certifications »






Release Date:

7 September 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

School of Life See more »

Filming Locations:

Sologne, France See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

$6,300, 18 November 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The castle which serves as the remains to the count of the Fresneye is the castle of Villebourgeon located at the Marolle-in-the Sologne (France). See more »

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User Reviews

Full of quiet emotion at many levels, a beautiful story
5 March 2018 | by agsconsulting2874See all my reviews

The story begins in an orphanage where the children are treated badly. One defiant young man among them, Paul, has a woman visitor, Celestine, who was summoned there. She is being asked to take him into custody, as the orphanage is soon to be shut down. She is not a relative, but there is some vague connection which we do not learn at this point in the story. She refuses the request, but agrees to see Paul before leaving. His defiance is manifested yet again and he is slapped by the man in charge and treated roughly. The impact on the woman is obvious, and the next scene we see them together on the train. It is obvious that Paul has mixed feelings about this change in his life.

They arrive at a small house in a rustic setting. Celestine is a servant of a Count that lives nearby on a very large estate. She is very kind, but her husband, Borel, is rather brutish. As it happens Borel is also employed by the Count as a sort of gameskeeper. Paul has a hard time with Borel, but since it is summer vacation he is able to spend his time in the woods. He quickly falls in love with the surrounding nature, and also makes friends with a local poacher, Totoche. This presents an interesting conflict since Borel is constantly trying to catch the very clever Totoche in the act of poaching, but is never successful. Totoche teaches Paul many things, thus the title of the movie.

A slight twist is introduced when we find out that Celestine (and many others) actually support and protect Totoche, but Borel is clueless. Paul continues to change in a nice way and grows closer to Celestine. The interactions that follow keep the story interesting, but we are not aware of what is yet to come. The remainder of the story is nicely paced and carefully woven as it develops toward an unexpected disclosure.

The acting was very good, the scenery was splendid, the plot kept my interest throughout, and the ending -- though some may find it a bit too "cute" -- left me feeling quite satisfied. You must watch it in order to judge for yourself.

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