The Good Teacher | Pas de vagues (2023)

April 2nd, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Teddy Lussi-Modeste | Cast: Francois Civil, Toscane Duquesne, Shain Boumedine | France, Drama 97′

Films about the challenges of being a teacher in the 21st century should have their own sub-genre; in 2012 The Hunt set the trend and got an Oscar nomination for and in the same year Francois Ozen comedy mystery In the House, won the Golden Seashell at San Sebastián. School of Babel addressed the issue of immigrant integration in 2013. The stresses strains of working of coping with complaints are dealt with variously in A Proper Job (2023) The Teachers’ Lounge (2023) and About Dry Grasses (2023). And finallyThe Holdovers (2023) adds a welcome twist of comedy to a fraught scenario . This latest tale is from French director Teddy Lussi-Modeste based on his own experience.

Francois Civil, best known for his swashbuckling antics as D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers series, is once again impressive as Julien Keller, a teacher who is put through the mill when a teenage girl in his class accuses him of sexual abuse, totally out of the blue. Soon the allegations spread until the entire school is thrown into turmoil, with Julien fighting to clear his name, and safeguard his own sanity.

Calm and reasonable, Julien appears to be the ideal teacher. Early scenes see him taking trouble to help struggling pupils in his class and generally keeping discipline without appearing draconian – not easy in a chaotic multi-racial co-ed in a Paris banlieu where Julien soon faces mounting pressures from Leslie’s disordered brother, and fellow students who pitch in with individual views on a situation that exposes wider issues both at school and at home.

Lussi-Modeste and Audrey Diwan (Happening) avoid cliche in a layered approach to a narrative that could easily have opted for simplistic solutions. The Good Teacher shows how an isolated event can quickly escalate and get out of control in today’s ‘culture of blame’. @MeredithTaylor

THE GOOD TEACHER is on release in France and Belgium.

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