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This French film touches on a subject very dear to many people’s hearts. It surrounds the battle of Daniel (Phillippe Torreton), a school principal, in his efforts to afford his pupils a decent education. He finds himself grappling with big obstacles in the education bureaucracy. Set in a depressed section of northern France, he tries to rally the town and the school to demonstrate a strong will to pull through against the odds.
We are witnesses to the social problems in the everyday life of a despairing society. Parents fail to keep up with school fee payments and children suffer from malnutrition and illness. We even become aware of the suicide of an alcoholic mother. Through all this, Daniel hates the fact that he is powerless in this crisis. He is a charismatic figure, rising above the daily struggles to show a mighty determination. He despises the government inspectors, and the defiance of his actions provides an inspiration to us all. The acting of Phillippe Torreton, in his brave, resilient character should be applauded.
Director Bertrand Tavernier handles a serious subject matter more than adequately. The film is actually based on the real life experiences of Tavernier’s son-in-law. It isn’t about being sentimental and complaining. Tavernier produces an emotionally engaging film about many issues amid the difficulty of not moral posturing. The honest approach endears itself to the viewer.