Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original title: Les Choristes
France/Switzerland/Germany, 2004. Vega Film, Banque Populaire Images 4, CP Medien AG, Canal+, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Dan Valley Film AG, France 2 Cinéma, Galatée Films, Novo Arturo Films, Pathé Renn Productions, Procirep. Screen story by Christophe Barratier, Screenplay by Christophe Barratier, Philippe Lopes-Curval, based on the film La Cage Aux Rossignols, story by Georges Chaperot, Rene Wheeler, screenplay by Rene Wheeler, Noel-Noel. Cinematography by Jean-Jacques Bouhon, Dominique Gentil, Carlo Varini. Produced by Arthur Cohn, Nicolas Mauvernay, Jacques Perrin. Music by Bruno Coulais. Production Design by Francois Chauvaud. Costume Design by Francoise Guegan. Film Editing by Yves Deschamps.
You’ve seen it all before: a teacher comes to a school of misfits and reforms them away from the brutal practices of their pigheaded principal and towards his own discipline of self-expression through art. In this case, the art is choral singing and the overall effect is the usual feel good cheese that Miramax loves to snatch up at film festivals and distribute around the world for audience awards and such. It’s not in any way an unpleasant experience, in fact there are more than a handful of charming moments and the acting is phenomenal from both the adults and children, but it’s too familiar to deserve any exceptional praise. The music is gorgeous, and fans of The 400 Blows, Amarcord, Au Revoir Les Enfants, and The Elementary School will enjoy being reminded of all those other precocious period movies about kids in school.
Academy Award Nominations: Best Original Song (“Vois Sur Ton Chemin”); Best Foreign Language Film
European Film Award: Best European Composer
Nominations: Best European Film; Best European Actor (Gerard Jugnot)
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Foreign Language Film
Toronto International Film Festival: 2004