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aka - Ca Commence Aujourd'hui
France 1999
Directed by
Bertrand Tavernier
117 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

It All Starts Today

Bertrand Tavernier’s film is a worthy addition to the strong French social realist tradition of film-making. It charts the daily struggles of Daniel Lefebvre (Philippe Torreton, who played the title character in Tavernier’s 1996 historical drama, Capitaine Conan) to keep his école maternelle (pre-school) in a former mining community in the north of France afloat, afflicted as it is by chronic unemployment and attendant social problems.

On the one hand he has to rally the dispirited parents who often have no money to look after their children adequately, on the other. struggle with a dilatory bureaucracy who do little but convene meetings. Written by Tavernier with Dominique Sampiero, in real life a director of such a school and Tiffany Tavernier (Sampiero’s wife and the director’s daughter), it is a touching and disturbing story that, like the films of Ken Loach, is canny enough to leaven the main agenda with cross-currents such as Daniel’s relationship with his sculptor girlfriend, Valeria (Maria Pitarresi). In places this is a little too cinematic, notably the casting of the overly-photogenic Nadia Kacia as a feisty pediatric nurse something which suggest the possibility of a romantic liaison between her and Daniel. although it is not narratively pursued and a couple of classroom scenes might have been shortened but the performances are convincing, with Tavernier seamless interpellatiion of his camera into the everyday activities of the school giving the film a remarkable naturalism which brings home its message with great effect.




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