Chorus, The (Les Choristes in French) – 4 Stars (Excellent)
First time French Director Christophe Barratier has given us an incredibly good movie in The Chorus.
I was forced to read the subtitles as I cannot understand French, but it mattered little as this film is illustrated and demonstrated with so many important values in life, including understanding, compassion, trust, appreciation, love, acceptance, challenge, vision, determination, integrity and justice.
Instead of a stupid, empty, meaningless action flick like Mr. and Mrs. Smith with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, this film will warm your heart if you have any heart worth warming.
The Chorus finds music teacher Clément Mathieu (Gérard Jugnot is excellent) landing a job at a boys’ boarding school populated by delinquents and orphans, and a misguided and mean headmaster named Rachin (Francois Berléand), who reminded me a lot of Nurse Ratched from Ken Kesey’s gem of a novel one flew over the cuckoo’s nest (Kesey’s original title to his novel was in all lower case).
Mathieu uses his love of music to mold a few rambunctious ruffians and some really lost, neglected students into basically a coherent unit with purpose and hope. Mathieu discovers the singing talent of Pierre Morhange (Jean-Baptiste Maunier), and finds an assistant in the little Pépinot (Maxence Perrin).
The Chorus was the No. 1 movie at the French box office in 2004, selling 8.6 million tickets. Gérard Jugnot mortgaged his Paris apartment to help finance the film, and proved his sense of choice in accepting scripts and accepting bets as he ended up making 5+ million euros (easily more than 6 million in American dollars) as actor and co-producer of the film. He became the highest paid French actor in 2004 by doing so.
The singing by the chorus in the film will stop you and amaze you because it is so stunning, and rightly so. Jean-Baptiste Maunier was selected for the role as Pierre Morhange precisely because he was an actual boys choir soloist for Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Marc, the choir members also sang the songs in the film.
While The Chorus was nominated for two Oscars, it came up empty handed at the presentations. No matter.
If you have a shred of decency and integrity within you, see this movie because it validates that what you do and who you are in life matters–especially if you will never even sniff fame and fortune–as you will find out what really matters and just how good people can be.