Comedic actor Kad Merad (Nicholas on Holiday
, AF FFF2015; Baron Noir
, AF FFF2016) takes a sharp turn against type playing a po-faced violinist in Rachid Hami’s gallic rendering of the ‘inspirational teacher’ sub-genre of world cinema, Orchestra Class.
Recalling the likes of Sérgio Machado’s The Violin Teacher
(2015) or even James Clavell’s To Sir, with Love
(1967), Simon Daoud (Merad) is a down-on-his-luck musician who, despite his talents, winds up teaching a sixth-grade orchestra.
As far as depictions of contemporary Parisian middle-school life go, this is a realistic one, with Simon’s multicultural class of rambunctious, trash-talking 12-year-olds proving a test for his patience, but there is one in which he ends up seeing potential, a painfully shy but gifted boy, Arnold. Simon makes a promise to his class to take them to perform at the Paris Philharmonic. But will they make it?
Plucking at the heart (and violin) strings, Orchestra Class
is a welcome reprieve from more challenging cinematic fare, ultimately offering an exalting viewing experience that vividly edifies the power of the human spirit. It also comes warmly scored by “the Danny Elfman of France", Bruno Coulais.David Stratton's reviewFrench with English subtitles