Director Jean-Paul Lilienfeld must have been annoyed that a hit film set in an inner-city school, Entre les Murs (The Class), should come out just five months before his movie, La Journée de la Jupe (literally, The Day of the Skirt), also set in a high school, made its appearance in French cinemas. Unsurprisingly, the new movie pales by comparison with its fine predecessor.
Isabelle Adjani stars as a stressed-out French teacher driven to extreme limits by an unruly class of pupils. Through a sequence of vastly improbable circumstances, she eventually finds herself holding the entire class at gunpoint, demanding that French schools hold a Day of the Skirt every year to give female teachers the chance to wear skirts.
A French friend who saw the film with me and who teaches in a school very similar to the one depicted in this movie tells me that this request is by no means an empty one. Teachers wearing skirts are often verbally abused by pupils from conservative religious backgrounds.
Although (as my friend mentioned) the language used by the pupils and teachers in the movie is authentic and believable, the major problem with La Journée de la Jupe is that it does not know what it is: it lurches from gritty realistic drama to high farce to poignant tragedy. Very few films manage to succeed in combining so many genres, and this movie is not one of them.
Adjani seems completely out of her depth as the linchpin of the film. She is not well-served by the script, which has her playing a completely insane character at one moment and dispensing calm, sage advice to troubled teenagers the next.
The twists and turns in the film are never convincing, and the supposedly tear-jerking ending left me (an unrepentant film weeper) resolutely dry-eyed.Favorite