Les Choristes (the Chorus)

on December 22, 2004 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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Juvenile delinquents find purpose and meaning in their lives when they join a choir at their school in "Les Choristes," a French hit that's just as contrived and sentimental as anything made in Hollywood. The movie begins in the present, when famed conductor Pierre Morhange (Jacques Perrin), who has just received tragic news, is visited by an old schoolmate. Cue the flashback to post World War II France and the pair's tough days in a dead-end institution, tellingly named Fond De L'Etang (Rock Bottom). Enter the film's hero, Clement Mathieu (Gerard Jugnot), a failed music teacher who is appalled by the conditions at the school and decides to bond with the boys in his charge by teaching them to sing.

Reminiscent of the similarly themed Meryl Streep film "Music of the Heart," "Les Choristes" simplifies its issues, suggesting, incredibly, that there are no bad boys, just aimless youths who need inspiration to get over the hard times. It also makes the formation of the choir look ridiculously easy. By the time the boys impress the school's benefactors with their flawless singing, "Les Choristes" has left reality and emotional heft far behind. Starring Gerard Jugnot, Jacques Perrin, Marie Bunel and Jean-Baptiste Maunier. Directed by Christophe Barratier. Written by Christophe Barratier and Philippe Lopes-Curval. Produced by Jacques Perrin and Arthur Cohn. A Miramax release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for some language/sexual references and violence. French-language; subtitled. Running time: 98 min

Tags: Gerard Jugnot, Jacques Perrin, Marie Bunel and Jean-Baptiste Maunier. Directed by Christophe Barratier. Written by Christophe Barratier and Philippe Lopes-Curval. Produced by Jacques Perrin and Arthur Cohn. A Miramax release. Drama, hero, teacher, schoolmate, inspiration, emotional
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