Picks and Pans Review: The Class

updated 02/09/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/09/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

François Bégaudeau | PG-13 |

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Even as you admire the dedicated efforts of a French high school teacher (Bégaudeau) to reach the ethnically diverse mix of adolescents in his Paris classroom, you can't help but notice that the troublemakers and malcontents are the most vivid and, in many ways, appealing characters here. The Class, up for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and winner of the top prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival, is a near-documentary look at a single academic year for Bégaudeau (the film is adapted from his memoir) and his pupils. An updated, less glossy version of Up the Down Staircase, Class shows that, sadly, there are sometimes more downs than ups for a teacher.

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