Features
Reviews
Must Hear Music
Reviews Archives
Archives
Bargain Basement
Downloads
Music DVD
Upstart
Pipsqueaks
 
 
 
Features
Reviews
Archives
Send Us Mail
Contact Us
 
 

ÊTRE ET AVOIR (TO BE AND TO HAVE) (NR) (2002)

New Yorker Films

Official Site

Director: Nicolas Philibert

Producer: Serge Lalou

Cast: Georges Lopez, Alizé, Axel, Guillaume, Jessie, Johann (Jojo), Julien, Laura, Létitia, Nathalie, Olivier

Rating: out of 5

It is virtually impossible to talk about To Be And To Have and not sound like a candy-ass. Without recourse to words like “charming” and “delightful,” the film would defy description. The routine flogging of such terms on the “Today” show or in Reader’s Digest has rendered them almost meaningless, so it is a real pleasure when a movie like To Be And To Have can allow one to appreciate just how cute French-speaking seven-year-olds can be.

In much of rural France, children of primary-school age are still educated together in one-room schoolhouses. To Be And To Have is a French documentary about one such school. Located in the Auvergne region, it is run by one Monsieur Georges Lopez, who lives upstairs and seemingly exists only to teach these kids. Throughout the film, the teacher demonstrates an infinite patience with the children when they struggle to understand what he wants, and a preternatural gift for knowing what these often inarticulate youngsters are trying so hard to tell him. Lopez’s talents have already made him a minor celebrity in Europe, where To Be And To Have was a surprise hit. (In a move that definitely will tarnish his image a bit, he has sued the filmmakers for a percentage of the film’s profits.)

The care that Monsieur Lopez manifests for his students is both moving and inspiring, but this film belongs to the children themselves. Nathalie is smart but painfully shy, Olivier and Julien cannot stop fighting, and Jojo doesn’t seem to understand how to wash his hands. A typical school day finds each student, in his or her own way, dealing as much with the process of growing up as with grammar or math.  The movie takes an unobtrusive style that affords an intimate look at the joys and difficulties that characterize the lives of these children.

As documentaries go, To Be And To Have is old-school. In the decade since 1994’s Hoop Dreams challenged much of the prevailing wisdom regarding the genre, documentarians have primarily been interested in challenging the notion of the camera’s objectivity.  Many, like Michael Moore, have taken advantage of this move in using juxtapositions of footage in order to make a specific point. Others have used this development to challenge the notion of truth itself, a trend which may have gone as far as it can go in last year’s think Capturing The Friedmans. Director Nicolas Philibert, however, will have none of that; his ambition here is no more (and no less) than to show the viewer what this classroom is really like. There is only one interview in the film (with Lopez himself) and only a couple of scenes that do not take place at the school. The film thus lacks a vantage point, and does little to convey that what happens at this school is somehow important or meaningful beyond the ways in which it affects the participants. Those who do not find the children inherently interesting may find the film interminable. To those people perhaps the only appropriate rejoinder is, “What the hell is your problem? Can’t you see how adorable these kids are?  And they’re French!”  For everyone other than these misanthropes, To Be And To Have is definitely worth seeing.

—Mike O’Connor

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



none now
-------


South By Southwest 2014
David DeVoe

South By Southwest 2013
David DeVoe

Red Hook Music Festival
George Dow

SXSW 2012
David DeVoe

Our Favorite Records 2011
Hybrid Staff

AWOLNation
Rachel Fredrickson

Kanrocksas
Rachel Fredrickson

Warped Tour 2011
Rachel Fredrickson

Eddie Spaghetti
Melissa Skrbic-Huss

Murder By Death
Mike DeLeo


Mike Doughty
Boulder, CO

Epilogues
Denver, CO

Imagine Dragons
Denver, CO

Sebadoh
Cambridge, MA

Young Magic
Denver, CO

Warped Tour 2012
Denver, CO

Thrice
Denver, CO

Mike Doughty
Denver, CO

MuteMath
Kansas City, MO

Other Lives
Lawrence, KS

Los Campesinos
Boston, MA

The Civil Wars
Lawrence, KS

Ha Ha Tonka
Lawrence, KS

Thrice
Lawrence, KS


 
hybridmagazine.com is updated daily except when it isn't.
New film reviews are posted every week like faulty clockwork.
Wanna write for hybrid? Send us an e-mail.
© 1996-2009 [noun] digital media. All rights reserved worldwide. All content on hybridmagazine.com and levelheadedmusic.com is the intellectual property of Hybrid Magazine and its respective creators. No part of hybridmagazine.com or levelheadedmusic.com may be reproduced in any format without expressed written permission. For complete masthead and physical mailing address, Click Here.