Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Chorus

2004 - Dir: Christophe Barratier
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 28th January, 2006
Starting with Jean Vigo's “Zéro de Conduite” in 1933, there has been a succession of French movies set in appalling schools run by insensitive teachers. An enormous hit in France, “The Chorus” sticks to the familiar songsheet: the one where a kindly teacher (musician Gerard Jugnot) slowly but very surely wins over his urchin pupils. Based on the 1945 film “La Cage au Rossignoles” this is one to warm your cockles in a big way. Writer/director Christophe Barratier's nimble touch lightens what could have been an over sugary pudding, and he certainly doesn't waste his trump card: the Petits Chanteurs de Saint Marc choir, who supply the on-screen boys' angelic vocals. The film was made on location, at a French castle in the province of Puy-de-Dôme, and both its interior and exterior scenes ooze with atmosphere.
Actor, co-producer Gerard Jugnot mortgaged his Paris apartment to help finance the film. The bet paid off and he ended up making over 5 million euros from "Les Choristes", earning him the title of highest-paid French actor in 2004. And it’s well deserved - considerable credit must go to Jugnot for his measured performance as the patient Mathieu. He carries this film on his shoulders and sets the tone for those around him.

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