Fond de l'Etang is a boarding school for troubled boys located in the French countryside. In the mid-twentieth century, it is run by the principal M. Rachin, an egotistical disciplinarian whose official unofficial mantra for the school is "action - reaction", meaning that there will be severe consequences for any boy out of line. This approach does not seem to be working as the boys as a collective are an unruly bunch. In turn, the teachers don't teach, but are always watching out for the next subversive act from the boys. January 15, 1949 marks the arrival to the school of the new supervisor, M. Clément Mathieu, a middle-aged man who is grasping at finding his place in life after a series of failed endeavors. Although he does find the boys an unruly lot, Mathieu does not believe in the "action - reaction" policy, and as such, butts heads with Rachin while secretly undermining the policy. Slowly, Mathieu's approach of trying to match the discipline to the crime does have a positive ... Written by
The locale for this French sub-titled film is a locked fortress-like school for poor boys from broken homes, WWII orphans and juvenile delinquents, very Dickensian in feel. The principal of the school,is a detestable man who abuses students and teachers equally. You've seen the plot before, of course, and some of the characters are "stock" sorts. But the acting of the lead, the teacher who "saves" the students by luring them into singing, is portrayed charmingly by Gerard Jugnot. Mostly bald, a bit stocky and no beauty, he is nonetheless disarming. The boy soprano, Jean-Baptiste Maunier, has a wonderful voice, and the chorus is splendid. Particularly fine was the score, almost entirely original, by Bruno Colais. I was looking for something inspiring on this bitter cold inaugural day in the U.S. Les Choristes made my spirit soar and reaffirmed that kindness, generosity of self and the gift of music still have the power to change people's lives.
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