Chorists, The Choir, The Chorus, Die Kinder des Monsieur Mathieu
Running Time: 96 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a
Country: Switzerland, Germany, France
At the 2005 Oscars, French-made whimsy The Chorus picked up a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film of the year. Personally, Im not sure Id go as far as to say its as good as all that after all, one of the things I expect from a film quoted for such an award is that it should stick in my memory box long after Ive left the cinema, and that really isnt the case with this one. But, what I will say, is that its a nice, unassuming and enjoyable little film, and one that really should be seen by everyone who gets the chance.
It concentrates on the extremely watchable Gerard Jugnot as Clement Mathieu, a devoted lover of all things musical who takes a job as the pupils supervisor at a rural 1940s boarding school for difficult children. The place is ruled with an iron fist by discipline-loving headmaster Rachin (Francois Berleand) but good ol Monsieur Mathieu thinks hes found a much better way of keeping the kiddies in line when he decides to turn the whole lot of them into a fully-functioning choir.
Sure, I know what youre probably thinking at this point: bet its all big OTT musical numbers performed by smelly little brats whove been convinced by their pushy parents that theyre much better at singing than they actually are. In actual fact though, youd be wrong, because the film is much more concerned with telling us the story of how Mathieu turns the kiddies fortunes around than showcasing the questionable warbling talents of a gaggle of pre-pubescent sprogs.
Of course, the premise cant exactly be called original. If weve seen a teacher using music/poetry/literature/sport to win over a tetchy classroom once, weve seen it a million times. In fact, when you think about it, this ones actually quite a lot like School of Rock, only for the terminally placid. But as a one-off, instantly forgettable sort of viewing experience, The Chorus works extremely well. Its short enough and witty enough to let us know that it doesnt take itself too seriously, theres a stand-out performance from lead player Jugnot, and – if all of thats not good enough for you – theres always the unfeasibly charming scenery to take in.
It's Got: Action.
It Needs: Reaction.
Alternatives:Dead Poet's Society, Mr Holland's Opus, School of Rock, The Fighting Temptations
You cant help but enjoy this pleasant, docile little tale about a man who shows composure in more ways than one.