Entre les Murs’ lead actor is 37-year-old François Bégaudeau, who turned his novel of the same name
Entre les Murs’ lead actor is 37-year-old François Bégaudeau, who turned his novel of the same name, based on his teaching experiences, into a screenplay with director Cantet and writer Robin Campillo. They recruited Parisian school kids and, on the back of workshops, filmed the drama within the grounds of a real school – mostly within the four walls of a classroom.
There’s an anarchic feel to the film as we are immersed in lessons, see snippets from staffroom life and dive headfirst into class projects. But, slyly, a composite portrait emerges, one that starts to take root when we meet some of the kids’ mums and dads during a parents’ evening and are asked to think about the pupils’ backgrounds and the baggage they bring to the classroom.
It’s a film that’s good on exploring, undermining and confirming first impressions. At the start of the film, a teacher runs through a list of pupils with a colleague, defining them as ‘nice’ or ‘not nice’ or, in one case, ‘not nice at all’. It’s our pleasure, and Cantet’s reward, that by the time the film ends we’d struggle to apply such simple labels to anyone we’ve met. The film deserves all the praise sent its way since Sean Penn’s jury gave it the Palme d’Or at Cannes.