You know this `Chorus' by heart

Movie Review

March 11, 2005|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

The Chorus is unabashedly sentimental and just as unabashedly cliched. All that doesn't make it necessarily bad, but it does make it lazy - a classic case of a film that's fine for those who like this sort of thing, anathema for those who don't.

Like Mr. Holland's Opus, like The Dead Poets Society, like To Sir, With Love, The Chorus is the story of a dedicated teacher who finds himself in a class of miscreants determined to make his life miserable. Does it surprise anyone to hear the teacher is so dedicated that they learn in spite of themselves?

The teacher is Clement Mathieu (Gerard Jugnot), the setting is a school for troubled boys in postwar France, and the hook is that he uses not just music, but choir music to get through to them.

All the stock characters are here, including the ham-fisted authority figure who insists the teacher is wasting everyone's time (Francois Berleand as headmaster Rachin); the staff member who sees potential in the teacher's methods and tries to help (the deceptively simple-minded custodian); the student with unbelievable potential, if only he could overcome his personal demons; and the incorrigible student who threatens to undermine everyone's best efforts.

What's undeniably gorgeous here is the music; the boys sing like angels. The rest we've seen so often that it's tough to get excited about it.

The Chorus

Starring Gerard Jugnot, Francois Berleand

Directed by Christophe Barratier

Released by Miramax Films (with English subtitles)

Rated PG-13 (some language/sexual references and violence)

Time 96 minutes

Sun Score **

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