Provocative, haunting and utterly realistic, this movie was like a Gomorrah of the classroom. I walked away not rating the movie so much as judging the individual students, the teachers, the French school system, education in general and even our contemporary society. Unlike Freedom Writers, Stand and Deliver or even Half Nelson, there was no plot, no coming together of the student body, or no sign that anyone – student or teacher – was any better off at year-end than they had been nine months before. The teacher, Francois Marin, appeared a saint for putting up with so much crap and trying so hard to bring something to his class. But time and again his pedagogic techniques caused me to squirm. The student who caused the most damage, Souleymane, appeared, for the most part, a good sort. Nothing was black and white in this mess of a world. As I said, it was more life than cinema.