Elementary (2016)

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Elementary (2016) Poster

Hot on the heels of its recent January release in France, this is a vivacious and emotionally gripping story of a teacher caught between passion for her students and love for her child. ... See full summary »


6.6/10
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12 May 2018 | dbdumonteil
Line up,children!
"Primaire " is an uneven sprawling ,sometimes confusing work.Some really good moments ,but some much less so .

Unlike high schools, primary education is seldom the subject of a movie ;teenagers are more interesting (or most likely easier ) to work with.

This school is not always credible ,and I know what I'm talking about ,having worked as the teacher for years.

Good sequences :

The student teacher ,for the first time in front of a class, self-conscious , desperately trying to catch the brats 'attention ;in this scene ,and the next one ,where she keeps on repeating "they scare me" ,she almost steals the show from the principal. The inspection ,when the teacher tells her pupils that certain things in life are much more important than dictations and arithmetic (the way the director moves from moral and civic education on to an impromptu arithmetic problem which deals with her future career is really stunning.In this moment ,the movie seems to have been inspired .Then scenes from directors from the past come to mind: Jean-François Stevenin in his final speech about a miserable child in Truffaut 's "L'Argent De Poche" ;most likely the unfairly overlooked Le Chanois"'s Ecole Buissonnière " where the pupils take their exam in a very special way,under Bernard Blier's watchful eye .

Boys from the CM2(final year in primary school in France) coming to apologize to the brats of the CP (first year) for letting their rabbit escape; the toddlers are well directed ,and their questions are touching.

On the other hand :

The unfortunate boy's mother's ex-lover is intrusive (which Vincent Elbaz does nothing to rectify ) and his relationship with the teacher is a cliché to end all clichés ; besides ,her boy,Denis ,and the good dad have been seen by the average viewer at least a hundred times or more.

There are too many characters and their appearances are too hurried for comfort (for instance ,the girl who needs a woman to help her during the class- it often happens in France now- ,it deserves a whole movie ).

Who could believe ,at the end of the movie,that the discouraged teacher (because of the inspection? ) is about to resign?Who could believe in the caricature of a shameful mom?

And last but not least,haven't we had enough of these songs in English ,at the end of a French film,even though it is sung by a children's choir?

See it anyway ;its several good segments will make it well worth your while.

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