Friday, September 28, 2012

French Movie -- Les Choristes

Earl and I watched a movie on one of his two nights off and when we got to the end, we looked at each other and said, "Good movie."
Many times, we watch a French movie and feel a little depressed at the end.
I was trying to explain this movie to my friend Angie at work yesterday, and she said, "That sounds like the lamest movie ever."
Okay, maybe my description wasn't very good, so let me try with you.
Les Choristes, The Chorus in English, begins with a white-haired orchestra director in New York. He received a phone call from France saying his mother has died. When he returns home for the funeral, an old school mate arrives with a book written by a prefect of their school. The movie then plunges into the past.
That past follows Clement Mathieu, who has failed at a number of jobs, as he takes a prefect job in a reformatory school for boys. The school is, of course, run by a tyrant who beats them and puts them in solitary confinement for the slightest infraction. Mathieu tries a softer approach and the anticipation is that he will pay the price for letting up on the boys.
He carries with him a leather satchel that he locks away in his room. The next day, he finds the lock broken and a clutch of boys is crouched in the bathroom with the contents of the satchel spread out before them -- music that Mathieu has written. He finds the boys and snatches back the music. As he yells at the boys, another teacher comes in the bathroom to find them. Mathieu claims they are having choral practice so the boys don't get in trouble. The teacher gives Mathieu a look that accuses him of things that teachers in boys' schools should not do and says he will not report him this time. As Mathieu tries to control the unruly boys in their dorm at night and in a study hall, he decides to begin a chorus.
As you might predict, the chorus turns around the boys, especially one who is in trouble constantly and whose beautiful, single mother works two jobs. The boy has a clear, haunting voice.
This movie has many of the things you would expect in a movie about trying to save children that others have written off, so what makes it different? Inspiring?
I think it's the actors. A cute little guy named Pepinot waits by the gate everyday, sure that his father will come for him on Saturday, but his parents were killed during the occupation of World War II.
The movie was nominated for 2 Academy Awards and won at film festivals in Chicago and Austin.
The ending is hopeful, although all of the problems are not miraculously fixed.
I think you'll like it.

4 comments:

judi said...

great movie! loved the setting and camera shots

Sim said...

It sounds good to me. You will have to tell your friend she's the one that's lame. Ha ha!
My "Earl" - let's call him "Mark" isn't much of a foreign film fan so I'll usually indulge in that kind of thing when he's otherwise engaged. And this one sounds like worth carving out some time for.

Grace said...

This is one of my favorite French movies ever! We watched it in high school for class.

French Movies said...

Very Good Musical Movie. Beautiful Movie from Rare Genre.

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