Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”
It's one of the most pleasing tales the movies can tell: Dedicated teacher overcomes bureaucratic obstacles and classroom hostility to unlock the hidden genius of his students and change their lives for the better. That's probably why it's been told so many times, and this version is gratifying but adds nothing new to the formula. It's been a tremendous hit in France, which is odd because it's exactly the sort of shallow, calculated product the French often accuse Hollywood of putting out, but there's no denying the joys of the film, which include some beautiful choral singing and no shortage of ingenious solutions when the teacher encounters resistance in the classroom. It's a big pleasure and I recommend it, but I wish it had been more ambitious.