The Workshop review – teacher on a preposterous learning curve | Drama films

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Here is some sad proof that even the biggest talents can produce feeble work. Laurent Cantet is the French director responsible for a string of outstanding movies, including that thrillingly powerful Cannes prizewinner Entre les Murs (or The Class) from 2008, co-written with Robin Campillo (who is himself acclaimed as a director for his recent Act Up drama BPM: 120 Beats Per Minute). Cantet and Campillo have collaborated on the screenplay for this, with Cantet directing.

The A-team have made a C-film: a laboured, inert and finally utterly preposterous drama, whose authors seem unaware that, in the real world, people who have escaped unscathed after being threatened with a gun go to the police afterwards to get the aggressor locked up, however caring and self-questioning they are. Everything about this seems unfinished and unconvincing.

Marina Foïs plays Olivia, a celebrated author of upscale literary thrillers, who comes to the recession-hit dockyard town of Le Ciotat to lead a young people’s writing workshop – created as part of a state-funded plan to tackle youth unemployment. One of the participants is angry, obnoxious and disruptive: Antoine (Matthieu Lucci), whom she stalks online to discover that he is involved in far-right hate groups. Meanwhile, Antoine is developing a voyeuristic obsession with her. Olivia reaches out to him to talk – but does she just want to vampirically use his life experiences for her gritty violent fictions?

The concept of the teacher who gets involved in her troubled pupils’ lives and – oh, the humanity – learns something herself is a tired cliche. This movie does nothing to reanimate it, and the “coda” ending is outrageously implausible.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: The Workshop review – teacher on a preposterous learning curve | Drama films

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