Welcome to Locorazo, the successor of LNKarno, during which we watch films that played the Locarno Festival a few years back.
After La France, I’m sorry this isn’t a musical, but the kids do get a rap performance about the uselessness of school. It’s an attractive looking movie, well-lit with a bright palette, bold camera moves. The story keeps pausing to demonstrate math lessons. Bozon is a better director here than writer, but it’s eccentric and unusual, and that’s what we like about Locarno.
Isabelle Huppert is a teacher who can’t handle her class, being investigated by higher-ups due to complaints that the students don’t learn anything. Malik is the most abusive of the lot, making Hitler jokes and humiliating the teacher for social points, though he remains an outcast. After Huppert is struck by lightning, she becomes a better teacher, finding new ways to engage the students and drawing out the crippled Malik through one-on-one lab lessons, but she’s also becoming a fire creature who torches a kid and two dogs to death. She’s assigned a trainee who takes crying breaks in the bathroom, and she’s given a promotion at work, but is eventually taken away by the police (“I was expecting you. Goodbye, students.”)
Wacky principal Romain Duris starred in The Beat That My Heart Skipped and Mood Indigo. Her soulful house-husband José Garcia was a doctor in Trouble Every Day. Trainee Guillaume Verdier is a Bonello regular.
Blake Williams in Cinema Scope:
In order … to elevate it to something that manifests beauty through experience as opposed to only being about it, Bozon – working with his cinematographer (and sister) Céline Bozon and editor François Quiqueré – amplifies the tactility of the images and the impact of the montage … Factor in the sustained emphasis on all the senses – bodies radiating, skin burning, hands wafting, noses sniffing – and you have an impression of a world that is real and embodied. The movie becomes a living object that breathes, and it excites its moments of beauty into something close to both lunacy and the ecstatic.
On Letterboxd: “Nothing to Hide” by Yo La Tengo