Thursday, April 16, 2020

Review: School Life

Release date: April 10, 2020
Running time: 111 minutes
Starring: Zita Hanrot, Liam Pierron, Soufiane Guerrab

School Life is a drama where new guidance counselor Samia (Hanrot) moves to a relatively poor area in France to work at a school in Saint Denis.  Samia, a hard working and determined teacher, will need to battle not only her misbehaving students, but also the general apathy of the teachers and other workers at the school in order to help her kids, and herself, succeed.

I really loved watching a movie about a French school.  For someone that loves soccer, it was wonderful to see how these kids interacted with each other in a culture that idolized the sport.  Famous players were referenced often and jerseys from all sorts of clubs were shown.  It was also interesting to see the equivalent French "bad" school versus something that would occur in America.  The problems of these kids, while real problems, just did not seem that dire compared to something that would happen in America.  However, the school and the students have plenty of charm, and a lot of that is due to the great cast of the film.  There are many likable characters, from the staff to the “bad kids” that are just acting out and being kids.  The kids are played perfectly and their individual quirks and predicaments help to drive the story.  Additionally, the teachers are equally enjoyable and quirky, with many messing around with the kids and each other to humorous effect.

School Life is like a French dangerous minds, with a strong willed teacher coming in and changing the lives of her students.  However, School Life is more subtle in its changes.  Samia does not come in and revolutionize the school, rather her focus on caring and helping individual students begins to show dividends.  In this respect, the movie felt very real in that these kids were portrayed as not bad kids, just kids without focus or without a goal in life.  Many just didn't think that they could be anything more than in the remedial class.  In that respect, School Life has some universal lessons that can transcend the country of origin.  Aspects of growing up, of finding your place, and dealing with lowered expectations are all very relatable issues.  

School Life teaches some valuable life lessons about growing up and finding your place in life, with an enjoyable cast of characters in a French high school drama.  

Rent it.

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