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THE CHORUS

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It's a gloomy time in post-war France when Clement Mathieu (Gérard Jugnot) arrives as the new instructor at a rural boarding school for troubled boys. Christophe Barratier's film is another entry in the inspirational sub-genre wherein a tough-love teacher betters the lives of hard-case kids by involving them in a meaningful extracurricular activity, in this case a school choir. Hence, your enjoyment will be determined by your tolerance for such predictable and sentimental films. The film ambles along, introducing a few of the kids and establishing Mathieu as kind-hearted. There's little depth or narrative tension: We hang on while the last few lads reluctantly join the choir, and idly fret when the mean headmaster threatens to scuttle the whole project. Barratier makes us wait for the music, so when it finally arrives, the anticipation is keen. You may find yourself filled with tearful joy. Or you may recall half a dozen very similar films you've already seen. In French, with subtitles. 

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