Les Choristes

February 7, 2010By Heidi EllisonArchive

Muddy Waters

Jan. 25, 2004: The French film The Chorus (Les Choristes) has been chosen as a nominee for the Academy Awards’ Foreign Language Film category. The film, by first-time director Christophe Barratier, is a hard-to-believe heart-tugger that just manages not to tip over too far into sloppy sentimentality. Hugely popular with French audiences but less so with the critics, it tells the story of a loser (subtly played by Gérard Jugnot) who knows he’s hit bottom when he arrives in 1949 to work as a proctor at a boarding school for troubled boys called Bottom of the Pond (Fond de l’Etang), run by a sadistic but well-groomed headmaster. Our softhearted hero soon forms the boys into a choir, which not only reforms them but also enables him to realize his dream of having his compositions performed. It isn’t Amélie, but it will make you feel warm all over. In France, the film has obviously struck a chord: It is riding high on the popularity of choral music in the country, and the soundtrack is selling like hotcakes. It will be distributed in the United States by Miramax Films and IFC Films.

Heidi Ellison

© 2005 Paris Update

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