The Class (2008) Script



-Okay, François? -And you?

Stéphane. François.

-Still on the team? -As ready as ever.


This one?

At the back, please.

Hi, I'm Hervé.

A sports teacher here for three years.

Welcome to all our new colleagues.

The students can be tough...

...but they're good kids.

Hi, I'm Olivier. I teach physical science...

...and I've been here for four years.

I'm Patrick...

...and I teach multiplication tables...

...and sometimes mathematics.

I've been at this school for a number of years.

Hello, I'm Anne.

I used to work in the Lyon suburbs. I teach English.

I'm looking for my new colleagues.

Hi, I'm Isabelle.

I'm Christiane.

I'm Frédéric, I teach history and geography...

...and I used to work out in the suburbs of Paris.

I'm happy to be in the city now.

I'm Julie, the year supervisor.

I'd like to welcome you all and wish you a good year.

I'm Aline and I'm the cook.

I'd like to welcome you all.

Thank you, Aline.

Hello. I'm Gilles.

I've been teaching mathematics for many years.

I'm retiring at the end of this year.

I'd like to wish the new arrivals plenty of courage.

I'm François.

I teach French and I'm starting my fourth year here.

Welcome, everybody.

We'll all meet up at midday... the canteen for a drink to mark the new year.

You get Wednesday like you wanted.

We could swap our classes.

Nice, nice.

Not nice, not nice at all.

He's nice.

Not nice, watch him, not nice at all.

Nice, not nice.

She's not nice at all.

Arthur, your cap.

Good morning.

That's my place.

Get lost.

Calm down now.

Stop stirring things up.

Remove your hood, please.

You two back there, there's a place here.

-One up front. -There's room here too.

Let's get one thing clear.

We waste five minutes lining up outside...

...five coming up, five settling down: 15 minutes out of an hour.

Do you realize what 15 lost minutes means?

With 25 hours a week...

...and 30 weeks in the year, we lose thousands of minutes.

In other schools, they do a full hour.

Imagine how far ahead they get in a year.

Figure it out.

We never do an hour.

Hand up to speak.


We never do an hour. You always say that.

Teachers say we do an hour's class but we never do.

Eight thirty to 9:25 doesn't make an hour.

All right, it's 55 minutes.

That's an important point.

Stop saying other schools do an hour.

They don't.

All I'm saying is that we waste time. Like now.

To start with, take out a sheet of paper...

...fold it in two so that it can stand...

...on the edge of your desk clearly...

...and, using block capitals...

...write your full name.

Why write our names?

To know who you are.

But you know us.

We had you last year.

Esmeralda, half of the kids here are new.

Be happy. That way, people will know your name.

I'm not doing it.

I won't if you don't.

You're right.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Mr. Marin.

Ms. Marin.

-A marine? -Very funny.


He wiped you out, sir.

Come on, it shouldn't take so long.

Five minutes to write a name.

It's ridiculous.

A biscuit for the first day?

I'm okay, thanks.

Rachel, a biscuit will buck you up.

All right.


That's a word...

...we'll try to explain later.

Are there any other words...

...that you don't understand?


The word "condescension."

Yes, that's a complicated word.

Do you have any idea...

...what that might mean?

A vague idea but I'm not sure.

You're not sure?

We'll talk about that later then.

Yes, Damien?


Argentite. What does that mean?

It's people who live in Argentina.

Right, the inhabitants of Argentina.

Of course not.

Damien, who lives in Argentina?

The Argentites.

In a soccer match...

...Argentina's players are called....


Let's move on.

Any other difficult words in this text?


Is there anything that you didn't understand?


Thanks for the prompt, Samantha.

I think that will do. Let's take a look at these words.

All right. "Austrian."

Wei was the one who picked the word "Austrian."

Yes, Esmeralda.

We all know what "Austrian" is.

-People from Austria. -Wei doesn't know and--

Maybe, but everyone else knows.

We get the message.

You didn't know "misleading"... you're not really in any position to talk.

But everyone knows what "Austrian" means.

Nobody's perfect.

"Austrian" is not a very important word, Wei.

It refers to someone from the land of Austria...

...which is a pretty tiny country.

We can live without the word.

Can anyone name a famous Austrian?


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

-Who? -Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Wolfgang maybe if he were English, not Austrian.

Any other famous Austrians?

Austria could vanish, no one would notice.

Seriously, it's south of Germany. So check a map, Wei.

You'll see where it is.

Souleymane, can you note the words too?

I forgot my things.

No one can lend you some paper?

-I'll do it at home. -You'll do it at home.

Sure you will. That's your approach.

Only work at home.

I'm serious.

If I could be sure of that--

Don't worry.

It'll be okay.


Let's move on to "succulent." "Succulent" is a word...

...that we'll try to guess the meaning of.

What's in "succulent"?


Suck off.

Very funny, Boubacar.

Very witty indeed.

Here's a sentence...

...with "succulent."

Bill enjoys a succulent...


Cheeseburgers stink.

-Who said that? -Me.

Why a cheeseburger?

Well, since you say they stink... think cheeseburgers aren't succulent.

Maybe, but they're crap.

Okay, but what I just said should have made the penny drop.

What does that mean?

-What? -The penny thing.

To make the penny drop.

No one knows the expression?

If the penny drops, it means you understand.

When I say...

...if cheeseburgers stink, they're not succulent...

...that should help you see what "succulent" means.

-What's with the Bills? -What bills?

The name Bill.

You always use weird names.

Weird? A recent U.S. president was called Bill.

Why don't you use Aïssata or Rachid or Ahmed or...?

You always use whitey names.

-What names? -Honky names.

What's a honky?

Honkies, Frenchies, frogs.

You're not French?

-No, I'm not French. -I didn't know.

I am, but not proud of it.

Fine, I'm not either.

Wiped him out.

Why use these names?

Khoumba, if I start choosing names... suit all your origins, it'll never end.

Just change a little.

What do you suggest?

Aïssata. Fatou.

No, Aïssata.

Excuse me. You have class 4/3 in French?

I'm class supervisor too.

Know what book you'll be reading?

No, I haven't decided.

In history, I'll start with the Ancien Régime.

If you want to link into that...

...what kind of books are there?

The Enlightenment will be tough for them.

How about Voltaire? Is he tough?

He's not easy.

Candide is simple.

Not in their year.


Yes, but...

It'd be tough.

-Twenty seconds to go. -No, sir, please.

We haven't finished.

We can't spend two hours on the imperfect.

Dalla, I can give you the time.

Sir, my pen keeps leaking.

-It's crap. -Who has a handkerchief?



Ask before you stand.

-May I? -Yes.

-Gently, okay. -The perv.

He touched her tits.

Just give him the handkerchief.

Spare us your comments.

Goddamn pedophile.

-Quiet. -Sir.

Why the imperfect indicative?

Cut it out.

-Why not just imperfect? -Quiet, Souleymane.

All right, Esmeralda, why the indicative?

If I knew, I wouldn't ask.

I can imagine.

Anyone know why we specify the imperfect indicative?

Why not just the imperfect?

-Nassim. -May I wash my hands?

Go on, wash them and get it over with.

Make it quick.

He'll take a week.

-I'll go with him. -Enough.

The imperfect indicative is different than another imperfect.

Which imperfect is that?

-Agame? -The imperfect subjunctive.


The imperfect subjunctive.

Can anyone give me an example?

I don't believe it, Khoumba, but go on.

I may be wrong.

-I think so too. -I were.

I were.

From the verb "to were"?

-I don't know. -I was.

I were, we were, you were.

All right.

Not bad but you use it wrongly.

You vaguely recall the imperfect subjunctive.

Imagine I say:

"He insists that I be... shape."

What is "be" in that example?

-Eva? -The present subjunctive.

Very good.

For the imperfect subjunctive...

...we follow the sequence of tenses and use a past:

"He insisted."

"He insisted that I..." Khoumba?


You really think I'll tell my mom:

"He insisted that I were'd been in shape"?

Not "I were'd been."

Learn to use it first.

"That I were in shape."

-The sequence of tenses. -No one says that.

I was right.

I were.

Will you let me answer...

...the question?

-If you care. -You may.

Before mastering something, the imperfect subjunctive...'re telling me it's no use.

Start by mastering it, then you can call its use into question.

Sir, why are you criticizing us?

They're right, that's the way people talked in the old days.

Even my gran didn't say that.

Or your great granddad. It's from the Middle Ages.

No, it isn't.

It is.

It's bourgeois.

Tell me, when was the last time... heard someone talk like that?

Yesterday, with friends, we used the imperfect subjunctive--

No, someone normal.

All right, all right.

Can I reply?

-Yep. -I'll talk this over, but calmly.

All right, not everyone talks that way.

In fact, people who do are pretty rare.

I'd even say only snobs...

...use the imperfect subjunctive.

What's a snob?

Snobs are slightly affected, slightly precious people...

...who tend to put on airs.


No, not homosexuals.

You can be affected and refined...

...without being homosexual, Boubacar.

In any case...

...this register may seem formal and a bit affected...

...and even bourgeois.

But these different registers exist... I keep telling you... need to be able to use them.

Familiar, current, formal...

...oral and written. Move between them...

...and use them all. Yes, Lucie?

How do we know what's for written and what's for oral?

Why is a word more for one register?

Normally, that's something...

...that you pick up as you go along.

You need to use intuition.

What's "intuition"?

Intuition is when you can't use thinking.

When you can't really....

It's not knowing...

...but more like sensing something.

When you sense things.

What if you don't sense?

If you don't sense them, well....

You gain intuition by using the language.

That's when you learn to distinguish...

...almost automatically between oral and written styles.

-Souleymane wants to say something. -Shut it.

What does he want to say?

-Go on. -Calm down.

If he says, you'll tell.

Cut it out. No fighting.

-I'll whoop you. -Don't act tough.

What's wrong?

Boubacar, turn round.

-What is it? -Nothing.

-Apparently not. -Don't send him to the principal.

If I tell you, I'm good for Guantánamo.

I'll be tased.

You won't be tased.

You have a question?

-Yep. -So ask it.

-It's too wicked. -It's not.

It's the pits for you.

-Just ask it. -I have your word?

Hurry up.

This is what I heard, okay? I didn't say it but I heard.

People say you like men.

-I didn't say it. -Who says that?

Just people.

They say Mr. Marin likes men.

Others say that, not you?

-You're not interested? -No way.

-So why do you ask? -For the others.

I'm a spokesman.

-But you don't care? -If you like men, fine.


-So is it true? -You are asking me.

Homosexual isn't an insult, sir.

You say it isn't but it seems to be a problem for you.

You find it odd, men liking men.

Maybe it is, I don't know. Is it true or not?

No, it's not. Feel better now?

Yeah? Sure.

Sorry to disappoint you.

All right, if Souleymane doesn't mind... he's settled his hang-ups...

...let's get back to the imperfect indicative.

Yeah, like that. Not bad.

What are you doing?

-What's up? -Get lost.

Who asked you? Look at your mug.

It's fucking okay.

Take these jerks, then we'll see.

Go on, show me your backs.

These guys suck.

Another one.

-Classy display. -You bet.

-Got one for me? -Can't afford it.

-How much? -Too much.

Stop thinking I'm broke like you.

She screwed up there. She thinks it's a regular verb.

No, the verb's "swim." Swimmed.



Justine, work it out yourself.

Swummed. That's better, it mixes the two.


She put "swemmed."

Okay, thank you.

Try "swommed."

You can sit down.

Let's see.

She can't write.

She can't write? Can you, Rabah?

-You bet. -Go on then.

Conjugate it properly.

First, swimmed.

Carry on.

Cut it out.


Wrong again.

Just kidding.

-It's not like that. -So, what is it?


Without an "I."

Right, no "I."

Why make fun of Justine...

...when you can't do better?

I can.

Justine wasn't so wrong.

That's enough.

You can't focus for more than 20 seconds... 3-year-olds.

People aged 14 or 15 like you're supposed to be...

...if I ask a question...

...they should know.

Your kidding around goes too far.

-Not at all. -Everyone thinks so.

Dead right.

Everyone thinks so, or only you think so?

No, everyone.

I think you push it.

If I cut you some slack, you'll never get anywhere.

You go too far.

And you know why.

I'm sick of these clowns. Sick of them.

I can't take any more.

They're nothing, they know nothing...

...they look right through you when you try to teach them.

They can stay in their shit. I'm not going to help them.

They're so basic, so insincere...

...always looking for trouble.

Go ahead, guys.

Stay in your crap neighborhood.

You'll be here all your lives and it serves you right.

I'll see the principal...

...and tell him I'm not working with 3/2 again.

No more technology for the rest of the year. Too bad.

It's been three months now and they haven't done a single thing.

Have you seen them in the yard?

It's like they're in heat.

They're all over each other like animals.

It's crazy. It's the same in class.

Kevin spent a whole hour going....

I've never seen the like of it in five years.


No more.

We're not animals.

Sorry, I'm....

It's dumb.

Come on.

Let's get some air.

One extract isn't a lot to read.

No one did it?

We're wasting time here.

Let's read it again then.

Who wants to read?

Great. Excellent work atmosphere today.

Khoumba, go on.

No way.

You won't read?

I don't want to.

The class revolves around your desires?

-I don't want to read. -I don't care.

What did Khoumba just do?


I meant her attitude. What did she show?


That's right, you're an expert.

You're all angrulo with me. What is this?

That's not true.

Try saying it in French. What am I?


Say it in everyday French.

You've got it in for me.

That's normal French.

I just want you to read.

I have the right to ask you to read, don't I?

Don't you think so?

No one has read it and you're picking on me.

I'm not. I want to work...

...and I've chosen you as I have the right to.

Drop it.

Start reading.

I won't read.

You tell me to shut up, then to read. What is this?

What's what?

Make your mind up. Think it through.

We'll talk it over after class.

-It won't be fun. -Sure.

You won't say that later.

Esmeralda, are you on strike too...

...or can you read for us?

It's her life.

In that case, will you read for us?

I'd be delighted to.

All right, we're listening.

"Dear Kitty...

...I'm known as a bundle of contradictions.

As I've told you several times, my soul is split in two.

On one side, my exuberant cheerfulness... mocking approach to everything, my joy in life...

...and my ability to take things lightly.

By that, I mean not seeing...

...any wrong in flirting... a kiss, embracing someone...

...or telling a tasteless joke.

That side lies in wait, pushing back the other side...

...which is more beautiful, purer and deeper.

The truth is that no one knows Anne's better side...

...and that's why most people...

...can't stand me.

I can be an amusing clown for an afternoon...

...but then everyone has had enough of me.

So the nice Anne has never once...

...been seen in company.

But, in her loneliness, she always triumphs.

My best to you. Anne Frank. Anne's diary ends here."

It ends here. Why?

Because the police turned up at the rooms...

...where they were hiding and deported them.

She died shortly after.

That's what I asked earlier. We talked about it.

I learn about Anne Frank...

...because she talks about herself and so I get to know her.

When I ask you to write your own self-portraits...

...I'll expect the same.

In other words, to learn things through your feelings.

You can talk about facts...

...that will allow me to know you better.

Yes, Lucie?

What we write won't be as gripping as... what Anne Frank wrote.

Our lives aren't as gripping.

All right.


Someone aged 70 could talk about their life...

...but we have nothing to tell at 13.

At 14, 15 or even 13, you've had experiences.

Less than someone aged 70. They've lived a lot more.

-Okay. -They've seen life.

It's funny. You don't think your lives are interesting.

We just come to school, go home, eat and sleep.

You come to school, eat, sleep. Fine.

The bare facts of your life are dull.

-But what you feel is interesting. -That's my business.

Maybe, but I'm interested.

That's different.

Why is it different?

Because you're a teacher.

It's not the teacher talking.

-It's your job. -It's the human being.

I think you're only saying that to get us to talk and stuff...

...but it's not true.

It isn't?

What isn't true?

The fact that you're interested in knowing all that.

So I'm not interested at all...

...and I'm pushing at this... convince you it's interesting?

Not as much as you say.

Maybe I am exaggerating a little.

It's only natural since you don't agree with me.

But, deep down, I'm totally sincere.

Why is it such a problem for you... talk about your lives?


Well, there's stuff....

There's private stuff.

Of course.

What could be hard to say about your private lives?


We may be ashamed to say certain things.

Yes, it has to do with shame.

Things you find it hard to say and even harder to write.

In your life, when were you ashamed?

You can be ashamed of a pal's mom.

Why? Because you find her ugly?

No. For instance, Rabah's mom.

She offered me lunch but I refused...

...because I was ashamed.

Ashamed to eat with her?

Because it's beneath you?

I don't understand. Tell me why.

I'm ashamed to eat with her because I respect her.

You never eat with people you respect?

I mean, she's not my girlfriend.

You can only eat with a girlfriend?

Tell me why. I'm interested.

I can't explain it. In any case, I'm ashamed.

I always hang out with Rabah... I respect his mom.

I don't eat in front of her.

So if Boubacar eats in front of us, he doesn't respect us.

No, it's not that.

You can't understand.

I'm not smart enough?

You just can't understand.

-Rabah? -I was at a party with Camemberters.


Yeah, like you.

What's a Camemberter?

Someone who stinks of cheese.

So the people at the party stank of cheese?

They were all in suits and ties.

I was in my baggies and got these weird looks.

-You were ashamed? -Yeah.

Because of the looks.

They were embarrassed because of you...

...and you felt the same.

They weren't embarrassed.

They looked at me like I was an E.T.

You are an E.T.

"Why's that Arab here?"

Okay, so it was a race thing.

I don't know.

But the snacks were bacon-flavored.


So I abstained.

Right. Bacon, ham. Okay, I get it.


Young people now have no shame.

Young people now? Like you?

Drop your briefs.

They have no shame.

It's normal. Always normal.

-Are you like them? -No, I'm not.

Are you ashamed?

Yes, ashamed for them.

I'll waste your ugly mug.

Anyone can speak but you stay polite, okay.

So why are you ashamed for them?

They have no shame.

They yell, they hit each other.

They make jokes, bother others. No shame.

Wei, aren't you confusing...

...shame and discipline?

You find the others...

...rowdy and impolite?

-It can be shameful too. -Louise?

You can be ashamed of your appearance.


Tell me, Louise...

...what are you ashamed of?

My ears.

Your ears?

Can we see?

You're ashamed of your ears?

What's wrong with them?

They stick out.

-You think they stick out. -Mine too.

I think that covers it all.

You have all you need to figure it out.

Take out your exercise books.

Note the following exercise for next Thursday.

It's very simple: "Write your self-portrait."

A self-portrait isn't an autobiography.

I don't want your life story.

Describe yourself and your personality.

We'll read them in class and see how we can use them.

Don't forget.


You know I want to see you.

Give me your report book.


You know why.

No, give it to me. Politely. That's enough now.

Put your photo on it.

Is it normal to refuse to read when a teacher asks you to?

-Is that normal? -There's others in the class.

I can't turn a blind eye to this.

Can I?

What happened this summer?

What happened during the vacation?

-I didn't see you. -I know.

I'm intrigued. At the end of the year in June...

...we'd gotten on pretty well together.

You participated in class. Since September...

...since the start of this year...'re not cooperative... keep sulking... refuse to read. What happened?

I don't like reading now. Can you hurry, please?

No, I won't hurry.

Explain. Why have things changed all of a sudden?

I can't stay a kid forever.

So it's a kid thing to cooperate?

That's it.

There's others in the class.

Of course, when you work, it's....

I haven't finished.

My mom's waiting for me.

I want an apology first.

An apology for what you did.

"I apologize for being insolent, sir."

Sorry. Okay?

No, not "sorry."

"I apologize for being insolent."

Go ahead.

I apologize, sir....

No, "I apologize for being insolent."

Be sincere. I want a real apology.

Can you hurry up, please?

-My mom's waiting-- -For your apology.

Let's deal with this.

I want a sincere apology...

...that'll stand for the rest of the year.

We won't go on like this.

I apologize for being insolent.

More conviction.

-I'm not saying it 50 times. -You two.

What are you up to?

We're waiting.

May I?

Hurry, I'm listening.

I apologize for being insolent. May I go now, please?

Cut it out.

I didn't mean it.

Two weeks ago, at the last meeting...

...the teachers suggested...

...introducing a penalty-point system for the students...

...based on the driving-license system.

If students broke a rule...

...they would lose points.

As it's the teachers' idea, I'll let them speak.

Since last September...

...we've noticed an increase in problems within the school.

Punishment has no effect on the students.

So we had the idea...

...of a penalty system.

The students would have, for example, six points each...

...and, depending on the misdeed, they'd lose one or two points.

And when they run out of points?

They go before the disciplinary committee.

As a parents' representative...

...this is typical of the school's bad habits.

You always condemn the students...

...but never praise them.

They earn praise on their own.

They do it with their grades, by moving up a class...

...and we do it in staff meetings... encouraging them to work.

There's the honor roll, the congratulations....

That all counts.

In your system... take away points for misdeeds...

...but why not go further...

...and give points to those who do good things?

Like gold stars.

I'm all for praising the students...

...but if students collect points and end up with 34 points, say...

...that leaves room for all kinds of trouble...

...we can't control.

Without going as far as these imaginary 34 points...

...six points to start with...

...means they can cause trouble without punishment.

Losing a point or two isn't a real punishment.

It can create a dangerous sense of impunity.

For me, the idea's totally wrongheaded.

In that case...

...we could find a punishment...

...where the students lose all their points in one go.

But why bother with the points in that case?

It's tricky.

What you call a sense of impunity gives us room to maneuver.

When you're dealing with punishments...

...that are cut and dried... can't adapt them to each case.

I don't agree.

The rules apply in the same way to all the students.

They break them, they're punished.

If not, why bother with rules?

Dealing with extremely strict rules creates the greatest tension.

Take cell phones.

We agreed on a rule...

...that cell phones were not allowed in class.

Sorry, but I break that rule...

...because it wasn't a problem for me.

There's room to be tolerant.

The reign of the arbitrary.

No, the law and the spirit of the law.

We could talk all night but it's not possible.

We have other topics to tackle.

In particular, one vital issue...

...a very sensitive one, concerning the staff coffee machine.

It's a sensitive issue, all right.

There's a real problem this year.

The price of a coffee has gone up from 40 centimes... 50 centimes.

That may seem petty but with several coffees a day... 8, at 10 or at 4 in the afternoon... works out at a lot.

So we've clubbed together to buy a coffeemaker.

That way, we can drink as much coffee as we want...

...without having to count.

Mr. Pierre will be delighted to reply.

First of all, this machine was installed in 2001... replace a machine...

...that needed the intervention of an outside company for restocking...

...repairs, et cetera.

It was very expensive and not at all profitable.

We switched to the new machine which isn't profitable yet.

I'm sorry to hear that.

And so we increased...

...the price of coffee by 10 centimes.

The thing has to be economically viable.

Nobody's shocked?

It's clear and logical to me.

Good evening.

Don't move.

We have to go. We haven't finished.


Adolescents learn to respect their teachers...

...because of threats...

...or the fear of having problems.

For starters, I respect you...

...and respect must be mutual.

For instance, I don't say you're hysterical... why do you say I am?

I've always respected you... I don't understand why I have to write this.

I know you have it in for me but I don't know why.

I shall sit at the back... avoid any other conflicts...

...unless you come looking for them.

I admit I can be insolent...

...but only if provoked.

I won't look at you again... you can't say my look is insolent.

In theory, in a French class... talk about French, not your grandma, your sister...

...or girls' periods.

And so, from now on, I won't speak to you again.

Signed Khoumba.

-What's up? -It's a secret.

A secret?

It won't stay a secret for long.

Why have you changed places?

No reason.

I felt like it.

-A problem? -No, not at all.

No problem.

I wanted a change of scene.

Okay, that's enough.

Let's get to work.

No, sir, please.

Please, sir.

You're just copying what you did at home.

You've had plenty of time.


I have to?

Yes, absolutely.

My name is Esmeralda Ouertani, I'm 14.

I live on Allée du Père Dhuit...

...Paris 20...

...with my two parents and my three brothers and sisters.

Later, I'd like to be a policewoman...

...because people say all policemen are bad...

...and so we need good ones.

If not, I'd like to be a rapper...

...and I'm a fan of Bakar...

...Médine, Younes, Marvin and Mafiak'1 Fry.

Otherwise, I like eating, sleeping and hanging out in the 'hood.

Or rather?

The neighborhood.

You can say it right.

When you write, you use the standard style.

Don't make me correct you.

Wei, go on.

My name's Wei, I'm Chinese...

...I'm 15, I have two sisters, I'm the youngest.

My hobby is playing video games, at least four hours a day.

I find it hard using French correctly.

It's so hard expressing myself that others don't understand me.

That's why I don't communicate much.

I hardly ever go out. Nothing much interests me outside.

The environment doesn't suit me here since I'm allergic...

...but I don't know what.

Allergic to yourself, that's what.

That's good, Wei.

I feel that I know you better...

...after hearing your self-portrait. That's the goal.

-To tell us things. -It had to be him.

His just happens to be good, not ours.

No, not at all.

I can congratulate Wei...

...and I'd gladly congratulate you if you managed to do it well.

Rabah, read us...

-...your self-portrait. -No.

How can I congratulate you if you don't?

I don't need that.

Make your mind up.

We're listening.

My name's Rabah, I'm 14...

...I listen to rap.

I love my village in Kabylia and go there every year.

I like music, rap and slam.

I have two brothers but I don't like school.

I don't like tramps.

I like Zidane...

...I like to talk and I like Psy 4 de la Rime's videos.

Go Marseille.

-We can manage without Marseille. -Go Paris.

We don't need it in a self-portrait.

He skipped two lines.

That's all.

Cut it out.

Go, dude.

"I like to make love."

I never wrote that.

"I like to look good for the women...

...and I like summer... see girls' cleavage."

Why not, Rabah?

I never wrote that.

It looks like your writing.

No way.

There's no shame in liking cleavage.

It's not a sin.

Souleymane, stop rocking and read your self-portrait.

I'm curious.

No, not huh.

I wrote nothing.

I saw you writing earlier.

-No, I wrote nothing. -You did.

-Nothing. -We're listening.

I'm Souleymane.

I have nothing to say about me because no one knows me but me.

All right.

That's good. A bit long maybe.

You can't make the effort that the others did?

I don't talk about myself.

How come the others do?

That's their problem. I don't talk about my life.

He just can't write, that's all.

What's up, you cop?

You talking to me, cop?

-I can live with it. -Enough.

Arrest guys instead of talking to me.

Got your cuffs?

-Chill. -Your breath stinks.

-Chill. -Heard of Aquafresh?

Souleymane, there's no need to be offensive.

Need a toothbrush?

You're a lot better at oral insults than writing.

He can't even write his name.

Zip it. What does this say?

Spare us your Koran.

Shut it. What's wrong with the Koran?

-I'll spare you when you calm down. -Calm down.

-It's the Koran. -Bullshit.

What's that tattoo, Souleymane?

Why are you showing it?

He claims it's Koran.

What is it? Why are you showing us?

It means shut your mouth.

It doesn't mean that.

So give us the real translation. Go on, tell us.

I don't want to.

You show it in my class so tell us.

It says here, right here:

"If your words are less important than silence, keep quiet."

What I said.

I said that.

It's not what you said.

Why isn't it the same?

It's different. I think it sounds better.

Yes, it's better put.

If only you could write such interesting things on paper...

...that would be great.

I think so too.

That proves you can do it.

After these first few self-portraits, I'd like you... rewrite them and polish them...

...making sure you answer the questions that we listed:

What I like and don't like... qualities and flaws, who I'd like to be....

Come in.

Stand up, please. Good morning.

That goes for those at the back too. Come on, stand up.

Chérif, you heard me? Everyone has to stand.

It's a way of greeting an adult.

It doesn't mean submission or humiliation.

Good. Sit back down.

I've come to introduce a new student.

Carl. Try to make him welcome...

...until the end of the year.

Thank you.

Carl, go sit in the third row, in that free place.

Khoumba, move your things.

Take a sheet of paper and a pen and try to catch up with the others.

We'll talk after.

Don't forget the homework for Monday without fail.

Let's finish with this.


Carl, stay here a minute or two.


I don't know if you know but I'm Mr. Marin...

...your class supervisor.

If there's a problem, tell me.

I know who you are, why you're here.

The principal told me but that doesn't matter.

We'll start from scratch here.

It will all go well.

You've seen that we....

We're on self-portraits to be handed in next Monday.

Maybe you could do one too.

Know when the next class is?

Monday, at 9:30.


You like French?

Like everyone, I guess.

That doesn't mean much. Okay, off you go.

You know what a self-portrait is?

You're sure?

Have a good day.

Pleased to meet you.

Sit down, please.

Thank you for coming.

I know it isn't easy.

We're very pleased with Wei.

Very pleased. All the teachers at the staff meeting said so.

He's kind, he's pleasant.

It's good to have him in class.

And it's showing in his grades. We have...

...the usual good grades in mathematics.

He's doing well there.

13/20. In French, we have a nine here.

Not a lot.

He doesn't speak French very well yet but that's only normal.

He speaks a lot. He tells me about a lot of things.

He talks about his computer.

-He's into that. -Always too late.

He works too late?

Yes, too late, not sleep good.

After, school not good.

Eyes get sick after.

Yes, his eyes.

He may spend a lot of time on the computer...

...but things are fine at school for now.

He works well and he doesn't seem tired.

Nassim. I'd like him to do....

He can go far.

He has all he needs.

At his age, I wasn't that lucky.

I'm behind him.

Anything he needs, I get him.

But he has to do right.

Things are good at home with him...

...but I'd like him to keep on studying.

Me and his mother...

...we'd like to be proud of him.

That's what we ask of him.

I think we all agree on what we need to do.

It's crazy how alike you are.

We're lookers in the family.

You're right.

An adolescent who talks with his family...

...who has good grades...

...who has friends...

...even if he's a bit of a loner.

He's an outcast?

He's a boy who talks with adults, who exchanges with them.

Maybe he doesn't with you...

...but that means...

...he's just a teenager trying to define himself.

I was useless at school for years.

I rejected the idea of making us fit in with the system.

Do his black clothes bother you? The way he looks?

I don't get it.

I'd like him to go to the best, to Henri IV.

Henri IV?


Standards again.

Because they have very high standards.

A mother wants the best for her son.

She's scared I'll feel lost in high school because the others...

...went to fancy private schools and Dolto High isn't like that.

It's a pity that the teachers....

I don't want to accuse anyone....

Go on, accuse us. It's a pleasure.

Why don't you try... push the better students a little harder, say?

They get bogged down by other students...

...who aren't as good.

My mom makes stuff up. Dolto High isn't useless.

I didn't say useless, I said average.

I didn't call it useless.

We talked about Souleymane a great deal... the staff meeting.

Many teachers have complained about his attitude...

...that is very negative.

Many complain that he comes without his things.

When he comes, as he's often absent.

I think you know that.

No, we didn't know.

Souleymane tells us he works hard.

-Sorry? -She doesn't think so.

There have been notes in his report book...

...since September, three months now.

Notes about the problems he was having.

She signs them without knowing because she can't read.

You read the notes too?

Yes, but I'm just his brother. You see?

But you knew there was a problem?

No, I didn't know. He says things are fine when I ask.

Does he work at home?

He stays in his room.

I see.

She doesn't understand the notes.

I realize that.

You know the situation now.

I'm telling you officially there's a problem.

Talk to him.

I'll talk to him about it.

Just having a....

Maybe a conversation with his father...

...could help.

I'll talk to my father and see what we can do.

We're not settling scores.

We want to improve things.

-Your mom? -You bet.

Ugly old crow.

Your ma's ugly, and so are you.

-She sulking? -No, she hates photos.

Me and my bro pissed her off.

-Let's get started. -Sir.

Souleymane has photos for his portrait.

Cut it out, my photos are crap.

That's a good idea.

Get your own.

Painters do self-portraits.

I'm no painter.

Yes, I know that. Let's go.

Caps, please.

I spend all my free time playing the guitar.

If you're typing, hurry and finish to let the others...

...type up their self-portraits.

Don't blow the place up.

-It's okay. -You know what you're doing?

As a computer genius, you'll put it all back after.

Don't worry.

I'm counting on you.

Okay, Carl?

Yes, sir.

-I can't see it? -No, not yet.

How do you spell Lafayette?

How do you mean?

Like Galeries Lafayette.

Why mention that?

I go there often so I want to add it.

Wow. That's four metro stops.

A huge leap from your neighborhood.

-We're not hicks. -We're city kids.


You go into the center of Paris?

I go everywhere. The first, the fifth, the 20th, the 12th, the 19th.

Why do you go to the fifth?

In the fifth, I go to see pals in high school.

Near Luxembourg.

The Luxembourg gardens?

Not the gardens, Luxembourg.

The country?

No, the Luxembourg metro station.

So you do get out and about.

I see you two have made up.

-It's our business. -And not yours.

So how do you spell Lafayette?

Lafayette is....


With a capital.

Much better now.

Much better.

Yes, that is a good photo.

-You could add a legend. -A legend?

Like a story or a tale.

A caption under the photo like in papers.

You mean, like in Le Parisien?

Yes, like in Le Parisien.

What could you put? Who is she?

My old woman.

-Meaning? -My mother.

You could say she's your mother.

Then you could explain...

...why she's making this gesture to the photographer.

They'd pissed her off.

I'm not gonna write that.

So why is she doing that?

She hates photos.

So write that.

"My mother hates having her photo taken."

That's a legend.


Do that with all the photos and you're set.

I'm 5 foot 6 and I can get really mad

-Printed everything? -Yeah, I'm good.


What are you doing now, sir?

As you can see...

...I'm putting the photos up... get a global view.

The others read out their self-portraits... you're going to put yours...

...on show.

You know my photos suck.

Not at all, they're very good.


When a student does good work, I let the whole class see it.

You're just winding me up.

No, I wind you up if I feel... can do better. This is good.

That's bullshit.

If you've finished...

...come and take a look at Souleymane's masterpiece.


I'll straighten them.

Look at the tattoo.

You're hideous.

I like playing soccer.

I like playing computer games.

I like playing with pretty girls.

I like vacations in the Caribbean.

I like fries, zouk and dance-hall music.

I like watching MTV Base...

...and I like my parents and my brother.

I like my pals and staying up all night.

I like the series on the slave trade.

I like my 'hood.

I like the series Homeland Security.

I like eating in restaurants and going wild.

I hate people crying for no reason.

I hate techno and tectonic.

I hate guys and girls who show off.

I hate visiting my brother in jail.

I hate talent-contest shows on TV.

I hate politicians...

...the war in Iraq...

...Goths and skaters.

I hate teachers who are too strict.

I hate mathematics, racists...

...and I hate Materazzi.

I hated the Paul Eluard school...

...and I like being here.

I have something to say.

Could you listen to me, please?

I have something to say.

The mother of Wei, a student in 4/3 has been arrested.

She was in France illegally.

She has been picked up and may be tried next week.

She may be deported to China. I thought you should know... it's important.

She's been here three years now.

I know...

...but that's how it goes, wrong place, wrong time.

Not the father?

He doesn't have papers either but they don't bother him.

To start with, as lawyers cost a lot...

...we could do a collection...

...and maybe even go to court... try to have some influence on the verdict.

Will Wei have to leave?

Not for now but you never know.


I feel kind of pathetic after that.

I had something to tell you, but this isn't a good time.

You've said too much now.

I'm pregnant.

That calls for a celebration.

How far along?

Two months. I'll only have a drop.

Just a drop.

Bravo, Vincent.

-He's an expert. -I didn't do it on purpose.

Who shook it?

Any names yet?

If it's a boy, say?

If it's a boy, I like Enguerran.

-Enguerran? -Yes.


What a handicap. That won't be easy.

I hope not. Thanks a lot.

You all have a glass?

Hold on a second.


I have two wishes.

My first wish... that Wei's mom stays in France.

And my second wish... that my child will be as intelligent as Wei.

Jackie Chan.

Come on, play.

I didn't do nothing.

He just fell.

Play, Souleymane.

What do you say, Mali man?

What's up, you Caribbean shit?


Come on, let's play.

I'll waste the loser.

Caribbean fag.

Screw Thierry Henry.

Stand there. Talk loud enough for them to hear...

...and try to convince them. Go ahead.

The Africa Cup of Nations will be starting soon.

I'm glad Morocco's playing.

It's the best team in the world in my opinion.

The sick thing is that my pals, the Malians, aren't playing.

It's tough for them.

They weren't good enough to qualify.

Morocco would have let them play on a friendly basis...

...but 4-0 really hurts.

4-0 how?

Last time Mali played Morocco...

...they wasted them 4-0.

But the weird thing is...

...when Mali doesn't play...'s like all the Africans here...

...aren't African.

With each cup, they all go crazy...

...but when Mali doesn't play, they keep a low profile.


So, whether Mali plays in the Africa Cup of Nations or not...

...the Africans in this class feel more or less African. Okay.

Thank you, Nassim.

I get the feeling your words are directed... your neighbor, Souleymane.

Morocco jerk's not even on my radar.

Arthur is next.

I see you have your notes...

...just like a politician.

That's good.

Speak up, Arthur. Esmeralda, let him speak first.

I want to defend my look.

A lot of people say it sucks.

I don't dis your clothes... you don't dis mine.

Clothes are freedom of speech.

I dress how I want... dress how you want, okay.

I dress like this to be different and not follow the others like sheep.

You're the sheep here.

I feel better being myself...

...and not being like others.

I also think if there were 22 Goths here...

...and one guy like you, you'd keep quiet then.

There's a contradiction in what you say.

You want to be you. Are those clothes you?

Those clothes are worn by a huge number of people.

Most people who wear them are gloomy inside... we're all kind of alike.

You're all alike, you're all gloomy, so that's not you.

By being different.

You're different and the same.

Thank you for taking a stand...

...and being brave enough to do so.

Boubacar, go on.

Boubacar, my pal.

Listen to him.

I've come up to reply to Nassim.

He says that since Mali isn't in the Africa Cup of Nations... Africans have no team to support.

But he's forgetting Ivory Coast.

With an ace player, Didier Drogba.

He beats any Moroccan.

He plays for Chelsea.

What Moroccan plays in England?

They're not up to it.

-I'm through. -Thanks, Boubacar.

I think that rectification was indeed...


Who wants to speak now?

Carl, go on.

Actually, I'd like to say...

...they're starting to piss us off with the Africa Cup.

At recess you're there, pissing us off with your cup.

It hasn't even started yet.

Carl, I'll be polite with you.

Sorry to interrupt, but tell me, what's your national team?


Why do you say you're Caribbean rather than French?

We're French.

It's a French region.

Why don't you ever say you're French?

-It's the same. -I don't think so.

Look at the players. Thierry Henry, Wiltord, Abidal, Thuram.

Where does Diarra play?

He won't play in Mali, bro, he's not crazy enough.

Shut your mouth, pal, I'm not your bro.

An ape like this jerk.

No need to lose your cool.

New and already the big shot.

We can talk calmly.

This isn't a slanging match.

It's a debate.

Souleymane, watch your language.

He's fuming.

Clam up. Screw off.

No vulgarity.

-I ain't talking to you, man. -I'm talking to you.

Is that any way to talk to a teacher?

That's enough now.

You're coming with me.

I'm talking to you.

Don't start yelling at me, okay.

I'll get you, faggot.

You just can't talk normally?

Nobody else moves.

Hurry it up.

-Move it. -Hands off.

Aren't you sick of assing around?

Sorry to bother you.

I have a troublemaker who's been disrespectful in class.

I didn't ask you to sit down.

My class is waiting.

I'll see to this.

Sit down now.

I'm listening.

Will you tell me what happened?

A teacher should have to leave his class to bring you here?


...too uneven.

Too much talking in class."

Now let's move on to Louise...

...present here today.

A total disaster. What can we do with you?

No, good work.

Always good, I'd say.

It's a joy having a student like her. We need to say it.

Shall we offer this young lady a commendation?

I'm sorry, but I don't totally agree with you.

She's relatively well-placed in the class from a numerical angle.

But a commendation?

There's room for progress, huge room for progress...

...and I don't think her general attitude...

...really merits a commendation.

That's the problem with commendations.

Are they purely numerical...

...and mathematical or are they also to do...

...with her attitude and behavior as top of the class?

That means, to get a commendation... have to be an excellent student...

...and, at the same time, be a class leader?

So a commendation this term.

Louise is intelligent and will realize she can do better to satisfy you.

Now, Chérif.

Our friend Chérif.

I have a problem with Chérif.

He's a kid with abilities, he could do well.

I could easily give him 17/20...

...but he spends so much time talking and disturbing the class...

...his average grade is poor. And that's a pity.

His behavior's irregular. He can be a disaster...

...and you can't do a thing with him...

...or he can be really good.

What does Chérif get?

A warning about his work or his behavior?

For me, behavior, not work.

In my class, it's more his work.

It's more like a work problem looking at his grades.

Mathematics: 6.

French: 8.

History and geography: 9.

English: 9.5.

Excuse me.

Science: 12. Music: 11.

His grades are pretty low but it seems to be a behavior problem.

Why don't we put that for now and say he can work harder?

So I'll put "Chérif...

...can succeed as long as...

...his attitude changes... relation to his work."

Let's move on to Souleymane.

Souleymane. Someone else can start.

What do we say?

-Nothing good. -What else?

We already discussed him in the first term.

We said it all.

He has huge weaknesses, notably in written French.

I don't think there's anything...

...particularly new...

...this term.

Feeling better, Esmeralda?

I didn't know being class rep was such fun.

We were talking about Souleymane.

In relation to what François just said...

...he forgot his things most of the time this term...

...and didn't do much.

It's not just that, it's way beyond that.

He's more and more unruly. He prevents the others from working.

Can I say something?

If you put the biscuits away. Remember, you aren't allowed... eat in a classroom.

Well, his overall grade has gone from 6.75 to 7.25.


We're not discussing his grades but his behavior for now.

I have the impression...

...we need to consider disciplinary action.

His attitude's wrong.

It's simple. Every other class, I throw him out.

I don't even throw him out anymore.

He's only too happy when I do.

I don't think disciplinary action will help...

...because things will get really bad then.

They're already really bad. It's gone too far.

It's like he's mad at the others for being normal.

I'll remind you, Mr. Marin, you brought him to me yesterday.

Yes, but it was this year's first incident.

He was disrespectful, I set a limit.

I did what I did but I don't think... will go any further than that.

I don't have any real complaints...

...apart from yesterday.

Our job isn't to make sure...

...students sit quietly at the back and don't cause any trouble.

We have to bring them out.

I won't do that with threats or punishment.

I'd rather stress his good work. Some things interest him.

He can come out with some pretty good stuff.

Simply because he does something positive now and then...

...we let him sink and wallow in his hole...

...and we do nothing.

You just want to buy social harmony.

That said...

...what do we say? What do we do? A warning?

I don't think a warning's what he needs.

Maybe we should say he has reached his limit...

...because he's limited scholastically.

That's all well and good but I'm dim and have a line to fill.

What do we put?

It's not right saying that.

Three rhymes per verse. What do you call that?

Verses of three lines. Wei?

-A tercet. -Very good.

And four rhymes would be?

A quatrain.

From quatre, four.

Tercet, three rhymes. Quatrain, four.

How many syllables per line? Can you tell me that?

-Khoumba? -I know here are 10.

You know that?

-Want me to show you? -Yes.

-That's 10. -You say:

You have two extra syllables... counting the mute Es.

Don't count them, they're mute.

That makes eight.

We can underline each syllable.

I'll come back to that one.

Two octo-syllables and one four-syllable line.

-What is it? -11.47, that makes....

Eleven point five?

Is the number of syllables here?

No, my grade. It's down.

What's that to do with poetry?

They lowered my grade. 11.47 is 11.5.

Who gave you your grade?

You shouldn't have it yet.

Esmeralda told me.

So the class reps did do something after all.

I took a load of notes.

I got the impression you weren't really following the meeting.

Louise, I'm delighted.

You've done a good job passing on information.

Let's get back to this poem.

The rule is to count in front of a consonant.


I heard you really wiped me out at the meeting yesterday.

Another remark about poetry, I see.

No, it isn't.

Yes, I know it isn't about poetry.

What do you mean?

I don't know. You wiped me out.

Some people, not me, said if you carry on like this...

Some teachers said if you carry on like this...'ll be in trouble, not "wiped out."

That's revenge. I don't get it.

Why go for revenge?

How come it's revenge?

If you say stuff about me getting in trouble, that's revenge.

It's not revenge at all.

-You say it isn't? -Not at all.

We're not on the streets.

It's a warning.

Our goal here isn't revenge, it's discipline. Get the difference?

I don't get it.

When a judge sends someone to jail...

...he doesn't do it to get revenge.

It helps society run smoothly.

You just want revenge. You're riffed with me.

All I care about is revenge?

I wake up and say...

...I'll get Souleymane today?

You insulted him yesterday anyhow. He really laid into you.

I did not.

What did he say, Louise?

That you were "limited." I underlined it, I was so shocked.

Me? Limited?


What's your role as class reps?

You represent the students to help this class work...

...or you stir up trouble for me?

We just do our job.


We report on the meeting.

Of course.

I didn't realize.

When I saw you snigger at the meeting, I felt bad. l felt bad for you.

It wasn't the place or time. It didn't look very serious.

Nobody minded in any case.

-They did. -Only you.

No, it bothered me and I think it bothered the others too.

It only bothered you.

Sorry, but laughing like that made you look like two skanks.


Have you just lost it?

That's a bad thing.

You can't dump on us.

The word is "insult."

You're crazy, insulting on us.

You say "dump on" or "insult."

It's either one or the other, okay.

-Yeah, keep on talking. -In fact...

...I never said you were skanks.

I said that at one point in the meeting... acted like skanks. Understand?

Don't try to con us, you said skanks.

I'm just explaining the difference.

Sir, you don't talk to girls like that.

Look who's talking. You always insult everybody.

He wants revenge on the girls.

No way. The "noble knight riding to rescue" act...

...won't wash.

You don't talk to me, man.

Show some respect.

I will if I want.

You're heading for trouble.

Think you're tough?

-It's a question of discipline. -I'll take you anytime.

Stop playing the big shot.

Calm down.

Stay out of this.

Cut it out.

Don't touch me.

-You're crazy. -I'm out of here.

You can't just walk out of my class.

Are you nuts?

-Calm down. -Let go of me.

Stop it.

-Where are you going? -Let go, asshole.



Incident report What do we do?

I think we need to convene the disciplinary committee.

This is starting to add up. It begins...

...with disrespect, then the fight, with a student injured...

...and finally he leaves the class without permission.

There was only one incident and it all spread out from there.

One thing led to another, a chain reaction.

Well, what I can do is take...

...a protective measure since this is so serious... suspending Souleymane for 48 hours.

That'll give us a little time to reach a decision.

Shall we do that?

However, I need to see you tomorrow.

Could you come to my office?


I need a word with you.

There's a rumor going around.

A rumor?

Some students came to see me and told me... insulted them.

Who? Louise and Esmeralda?

They told me you called them skanks...

...and that led to the incident with Souleymane.

And you believe them?

That's why I needed to see you.

You didn't mention it in your incident report.

I didn't mention it. What can I say?

-Did you do it or not? -What?

Did you...?

Did you call them skanks?

But Souleymane's another matter.

I know it had nothing to do with him.

But word's getting around.

People are talking. I wanted to let you know.

Thanks for letting me know.

Hey, you two.

You complained about me. Thanks a lot.

You're welcome.

You could have talked to me.

Teachers can complain about us and vice versa, right?

No, it doesn't work both ways.

What are you after?

To see you punished.

-Punished? -Yes.

You, punish me?

You insulted us, you get punished.

Where will that get you?

I'll have spoken out.

Great, that's a lot of use.

Do you know what "skank" means?

I never called you skanks.

Yes, you did. For me, skank means prostitute.

-It's not that at all. -It is.

For me, it doesn't mean that.

It's nothing important at all, just a girl laughing stupidly.

Hey, skank means prostitute, right?

You bet.

Will Souleymane get expelled?

A disciplinary hearing?

We don't know yet. It's a possibility.

Stop yelling before anything's decided.

It's all settled anyway.

Why say that?

Because it's always the same.

You're in no position to talk. You're the one who got hurt.

He didn't mean it. There was a metal thing in his bag.

In any case, he blew a fuse and that's bad.

Sir, anyone can blow a fuse.

And then calm down after.

That's not sure.

You did.

You're calmer now.

I'm not. You don't know me.

All the teachers say your attitude is perfect now.

You think you've tamed me?

No, being sent here helped you understand things, see?

It didn't help me. I don't understand your shit.

Maybe your old teachers wanted to help you...

...and we'll do the same for Souleymane.

I say teachers who expel students are asses.

Right on.

You want to repeat that?

Yeah, assholes.

Everyone goes wild over some word I said.

You say asshole and I shouldn't react?

-They're assholes. -Cut it out.

You say skanks.

We say asshole. It's the same thing.

They're nothing alike.

A teacher can say certain things...

...that students can't say. Try to understand that.

You keep talking all the time. You never stop speaking.

Whenever we talk, you yell. What is this?




Will Souleymane get a hearing?

Give it a rest.

You sound like you want him to. It fires you up.

You know what'll happen if he's expelled?

He'll change schools.

No, he won't change schools.

It's automatic. It's obligatory. That goes for Souleymane too.

Do you know his father?

I've seen him once or twice.

If he's expelled, his dad'll send him back to their village.

Don't get overdramatic.

He'll go back to Mali.

I think we all need to keep our heads.

Don't worry.

You can't smoke here, sir.

I know, but since I was alone....

Okay, you went too far with those girls.

We all screw up.

Souleymane overreacted.

He's right. I saw Khoumba.

Her face was all bloody.

What he did is unacceptable.

That's for sure.

I know that. His bag hit her by accident.

A split eyebrow bleeds a lot. That's all.

You can't ignore it.

Don't take it to heart. Seen how they talk to us?

How's that relevant? Souleymane is going to get expelled.

That's kind of logical.

Let's talk about that.

How many hearings last year?

Twelve at least.

Not that many.

He could be right.

I know, I'm on the committee so I saw them all.

An average of two a month, twelve in all...

...with an expulsion each time.

The hearing is where we talk things over.

Okay, 12 students were expelled...

...but maybe there was no other solution.

Twelve out of 12.

Talk about a debate.

But twelve out of 12 just means...

...when a student has a hearing, it's too late.

Or it was justified.

Okay, things happen that lead to a hearing.

But then what happens?

What do we expect from a hearing?

There are prior stages.

Pre-disciplinary committees.

We inform the parents, the students are warned.

Not in this case.

We've no time.

It's pretty rare.

It's rare because we have this final punishment...

...that allows us to ignore the prior steps.

And even if we did use them...

...the simple fact of expelling a student... a disavowal of everything we have tried.

Okay, but it's Souleymane's chance to justify himself.

At a hearing, you don't speak. You're scared.

-You're paralyzed. -Exactly.

Let me sum this up.

He'll get a disciplinary hearing...

...he'll be expelled...

...and maybe even sent back to Mali.

You're being overdramatic.

No, I'm not.

Students who know him better than any of us here...

...who know his father, say that he is likely... send him back to Mali after this.

Some are threatened with boarding school...

...but it never happens.

It can happen.

A lot of parents spend their time threatening their kids...

...with that.

You can't take it into account.

Even if there was just a slight risk...

...that a hearing could lead... him being sent back, I don't think I can take that risk.

It's like when you hesitate...

...over punishing a kid because when he goes home...

...once that door closes...

...he'll get a beating from his parents. We've all seen that.

But we still have to punish them when they go too far.

Whatever the consequences, which don't concern you.

So I ignore that? I know punishment can have such a consequence...

...but I turn a blind eye, is that it?

You can't take it into account in every case.

The violence, him being sent back.

True, you have to consider it but after a while....

No more Christmas presents.

It's a question of principle.

We each have a role to play.

We can't substitute ourselves for the parents.

Sorry, but if I rewind the movie...'s a weird chain of events. It starts with reprimands...

...when Souleymane forgets his things, talks back.

We punish him. Again and again...

...until a disciplinary hearing leading to who knows what.

Everything gets out of hand.

Sure, looking at it that way...'s really shocking.

But the school won't be expelling Souleymane.

He's been gone for a while.


I didn't expect you so soon.

Have you reached a decision?

I don't think I have much choice.

By the way, Julie told me you had a heated exchange...

...with two girls in your class.

Yes, the two class reps but it happened first so....

You apparently called them skanks.

Let's say that, yes.

That complicates things...

...but the problem remains.

I'd like you to mention it in your report.

I don't want it used against us at the disciplinary hearing.

Don't bother hiding it, just write it down.

I understand.

I'll let you reread this...

...before we launch the procedure.

So I....

I just need to add....

Yes, without going into detail.

Does that suit you?

Can you take the minutes?

Please sit down.

"Carl tried to reason with him.

Souleymane broke free...

...swinging his bag that hit Khoumba in the face.

He left, insulting everyone and slamming the door.

I didn't go after him because I needed to help Khoumba...

...whose eyebrow was bleeding."

Those are the facts that led to today's hearing.

Madame, it doesn't mean Souleymane is a bad boy.

That's not what we're saying.

But, sometimes, a student in a class...

...through voluntary or involuntary behavior...

...can create an atmosphere that prevents the class from working.

Do you understand what we're saying?

If I may say something, it's true...

...there had been a number of signs that should have warned us.

We could have reacted sooner.

But now we have to deal with an incident...

...that is fairly violent and that's simply unacceptable.

I'd like to know if you realize that, Souleymane?

We're not saying you're deliberately violent.

The problem is you can't control what you say and what you do.

Souleymane, we'd like to hear you.

You're here to express your point of view. Go ahead.

I don't give a damn. I've got nothing to say.

Do whatever you want to do.

Excuse me.

Monsieur, madame.

Can you translate?

She says I'm a good boy.

I do my homework.

I help my brothers and sisters with their work when I can.

I always wash the dishes and help her when I can.

We don't doubt he's a good son. That's not the problem.

Let's consider his school record.

Excuse me, but could we focus on the facts here?

Firstly, I'd like to say...

...that we're surprised to see the teacher involved in the incident...

...on this committee.

We find it highly irregular.

It's true. It's odd to be both judge and litigant.

First of all, Mr. Marin was elected to the administrative board... the teachers' representative.


...I think that the incident that occurred in Mr. Marin's class...

...doesn't involve the teacher directly.

I'm sorry... mention some harsh words spoken by the teacher.

Apparently, you used the word "skanks"... describe the class reps. And that's a problem.

I did say that...

...but it wasn't something that concerned Souleymane.

I think he used the excuse of a rather heated exchange... express the bad mood that he was in that day.

He tried to defend them.

So I feel that it's relevant.

Sorry, but absolutely nothing justifies...

...being disrespectful to a teacher...

...insulting everyone and leaving a class without permission.

Souleymane, do you have anything to say?

I don't know. What can I say?

Monsieur, madame.

What did she say?

The same thing again.

She apologizes on my behalf.

You can come back in now.

Madame, the committee has conferred...

...and has decided to expel Souleymane...

...from the school for good.

You will receive the ruling by registered mail...

...and have eight days to appeal.

We shall do our best to find Souleymane another school.

Goodbye, messieurs, dames.

Souleymane, come to see me before the end of the week, please.

Mathematical proportionality.

This year, you learned mathematical proportionality.

All right.

I liked science.

What you learned, not what you liked.

If you liked it, you learned.

So, what did you learn?

All about volcanoes, earthquakes...


Convergence and divergence, movement of the Earth's plates.

-It was fascinating. -It interested you?

That's good.

Well, in mathematics....


Pythagoras' theorem, Thalès' theorem.

I'll stop you there.

You can't sit there and brag... learned Pythagoras' theorem. Recite it for us.

If in a triangle...

...two sides are equal to....

If the square root....

If the square of two sides is equal to the square....

The square of the hypotenuse...

...then the triangle's a right triangle.

More or less, yes.

It's spot on.

All right.

I believe you.

In history, I learned about triangular trade.

The fact that ships left Europe...

...with manufactured goods...

...that they took to Africa to trade for men who'd become slaves...

...that they took to America to work.

Then they took the money they made back to Europe.

That's triangular trade.


What in chemistry?


What's that?

Blending Fehling's solution and glucose.

What do you get?

Heat up the test tube...

...and it changes color.

What's the interest?

The interest?

I don't know. Why teach it to us if there's no interest?


What did you learn about human reproduction?

Human reproduction.

Well, the sperm...

...gets into the ovum...

...then you wait nine months...

...then you do a sonogram and then it comes out.

The sperm does?

No, the baby.

The human being that's inside.

-Khoumba? -Me?

Yes. That is your name?

In music...

...I learned to play the alto recorder...

...and in Spanish.

The recorder in Spanish?

No, in music, I learned to play the alto recorder.

And other stuff in Spanish.

Very good. Can you say something to us in Spanish?

And that means?

It's the vacation soon or the vacation's coming.

I didn't learn anything.

You can't spend nine months at school and not learn anything.

I'm the living proof.

You got something from the books we read.

-Your books are shit. -They're what?

They're useless.

What about a book you read by yourself?

The books I read?

Well, there's The Republic.

The book The Republic.

By Plato?

You read that?

How come?

My big sister had it.

She does philosophy?

No, law.

So, what's it about?

Well, there's this guy.

His name's Socrates.


He stops people in the street and he asks them:

"Are you sure of thinking what you think?

Are you sure of doing what you do?" And so on.

After that, people start getting confused.

They ask questions.

The guy's too much.

What does he ask people about?

Everything. Love, religion, God...

...people, everything.

-It's good you read it. -I know.

It's not a skank's book.

Wait a second.

Before you leave, here are your self-portraits.

One by one. When you have yours, you can go.

This is kind of you.

What is it?

These are the self-portraits that you wrote...

...and that we made up with the class photo and so on.

You don't have one?

Why did you put this here?

-You look good in it. -Cut it out.

You're like a leader.

-Have a good vacation. -You too.


What is it?

I didn't learn anything.

What? That doesn't mean anything.

Earlier, all the others...

...said they'd learned something.

Compared to them, I learned nothing.

You learned as much as them. They had to think hard too.

It's not easy... remember what you learned.

But I don't understand.

What do you mean?

I don't understand what we do.

In French?

In everything.

You can't say you don't understand anything in any subject.

That's not true.

I don't want to go to vocational school.

There's no question of that yet.

You're moving on to the next year.

You'll have plenty of time to think about your future.

Vocational school isn't an absolute certainty.

It all depends on how you do next year.

But I don't want to.