At other times, the teacher and his class engage in back-and-forth dialogue that, in context with Cantet’s use of handheld cameras, feels electric, as Marin steers, cajoles and pushed the conversation.

The great strength of The Class is in allowing its audience to identify with both Marin and his students, who, despite their insolence, are not always unjustified in their negativity. When Marin provides an opening for them to exploit, they do so, although the school’s other teachers, who struggle to keep their anger contained to the teachers’ lounge, still hold an upper hand in that debate.

What is fair in disciplinary matters for students, and for teachers? Do certain behaviors demand punishment, regardless of the consequences that might result later? The Class explores these questions, without settling on easy answers. Marin, although not portrayed as a religious man, shows a dedication to his profession that echoes Scripture: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). The Class is a stimulating, and, at times, gripping look at educators doing their best, and at students who challenge them to be better.

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  • Drugs/Alcohol:  A champagne toast; smoking.
  • Language/Profanity:  Lord’s name taken in vain; some foul language in subtitles; racial epithets.
  • Sex/Nudity:  None, but an accusation that someone is a pedophile, and a rebuffed accusation that Marin is homosexual; a student reads another student’s paper and claims it includes thoughts about love-making, although the student denies it; a teacher says there’s no shame in liking female cleavage; a boy recites what he learned about human reproduction.
  • Violence:  Marin kicks a desk in frustration; a classroom argument results in a cut eyebrow.