Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A good film to see -- even if the critics don't like it

This is not the blog to come to if you want to hear someone praise things French. But I did watch a French movie the other night that I thoroughly enjoyed and that my kids enjoyed. The fact that my 5 year old enjoyed it is rather exceptional, too, since he does not speak French, and his reading is not expert enough to keep up with subtitles. The movie? The Choir, or Les Choristes. It is, to give the critics credit for their disdain, an utterly predictable movie: The world's most famous conductor looks down memory lane to 1949, when he was a troubled kid in a sadistically-run home for delinquent boys, all of whom were saved by a kind prefect who introduced them to the world of choral music. What the critics missed, but viewers seem to get (judging by the high score members gave to the movie) is that it's very satisfying at two levels. First, we, as viewers, seem to be drawn to movies in which a gifted teacher makes a difference. (For example, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Stand and Deliver, To Serve Them All My Days.) Second, the music is lovely. Who cares that it's not possible that these ragged boys could have made such lovely music in such a short time? To heck with realism. I wouldn't want to hear screechy voiced misfits for two hours -- I want the fantasy, if only for the aural pleasure. The movie really exemplifies the distance that so often separates critics and audience. The fact that a movie is well made, enjoyable and inspiring, even if in a predictable way, is often enough for people who have to spend $20.00 on tickets, not to mention the $40.00 for the babysitter. To dismiss the movie merely because it doesn't have some bizarre or perverted twist, or because it's a polished presentation of a familiar theme is just jaded. The critics have seen too much and lost their capacity for simple enjoyment.