Les Choristes. One might read the back of the movie cover and think: “Naughty, rather troubled children…kind teacher…the teacher comes and shows them kindness…the kids grow to love him…Yeah. The typical trite, sappy story that we have all heard a million times.” The Golden Globe-nominated, French-language drama, directed by Christophe Barratier, is truly a movie we have all seen before, but this time the setting is different, the characters are well drawn and it delivers its uplifting message with sincerity and skill.
At the beginning of the movie, the date is 1949, and the Fond de l’Etang - a state-run boarding school for young boys in the post-war France - is being operated by the principal, Rachin. Rachin is a self-important, cruel man whose philosophy is what he calls "action-reaction," a.k.a., severely punishing every one of the boys for the slightest infraction of an individual.
In the opening of the story, along comes Clement Mathieu, a failed professor of music, to become the new prefect of the school. He immediately notes the bad behavior of the boys and way the school is run. In his own classroom he starts reform the boys, which slowly but surely changes the tone of the school. From observing Mr. Mathieu in his classroom on the first day you can see that he is a man who believes in hope and the future of these troubled children. It is that hope that he brings to light through music. He teaches the boys how to sing, and they make a beautiful choir.
The story was very well supported by a strong cast. The performances of the actors, even the child actors, are not overdone, but instead poignant and believable.
I was also very attracted by the music sung by Mr. Mathieu’s choir. (The original music used in the film and sung by the boy's choir is composed by Bruno Coulais and Barratier.) The songs were really very beautiful.
The movie has all one needs to be a charming, touching film: a well written script, top-notch performances, a beautiful score, and excellent cinematography. In all, Les Choristes is truly a work of art.
Clement Mathieu - Gerard Jugnot
Pierre Morhange- Jean-Baptiste Maunier
Pepinot - Maxence Perrin
Rachin - Francois Berleand