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Film review: The Workshop

A class critique set in France

A critical eye on the latest ciné releases

The Workshop

Dir: Laurent Cantet; 114 mins

Director Cantet returns to the theme of teenage education and opinion for the first time since his 2008 film The Class garnered countless prizes for its depiction of a school teacher managing to shepherd and educate middle school kids of diverse backgrounds and abilities.

The Workshop swaps the confines of the classroom for the sun-kissed surrounds of a novel-writing workshop in La Ciotat – but the teenagers’ lively debates and snappy chat remain as vibrant and ‘of the moment’ as in the previous film.

The film cleverly looks in on itself in two ways without being irritatingly self-referential about the art of plotting or creativity: the screenplay apparently evolved through ‘workshopping’ with the actors, while the narrative itself analyses what constitutes a thriller – the pupils must create a locally-set page-turner based on their own experiences.

Steering the conversations and hormones this time around is the workshop tutor, a writer of mystery fiction played superbly by Marina Foïs. But as political discussions play out, one troubled, dissenting voice stands out and it is the character of Antoine (played sensationally by first timeR Matthieu Lucci) whose deep-set opinions darken the film’s tone.


Also out: 120 BPM

A highly rated, late-80s-set Aids activism drama that leads this year’s Césars awards nominations with 13. Vibrant and vital.

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