West Coast Premiere • Drama, Comedy • France, 2016
DCP • 1.85 • Dolby 5.1 • Color • 105 min
Directed by: Hélène Angel
Written by: Hélène Angel, Yann Coridian, Agnès de Sacy, Olivier Gorce
Cinematography: Yves Angelo
Film Editing: Sylvie Lager, Yann Dedet
Original Score: Philippe Miller
Produced by: Hélène Cases (Lionceau Films), StudioCanal, France 2 Cinéma
Cast: Sara Forestier (Florence Mautret), Vincent Elbaz (Mathieu), Patrick d’Assumçao (M. Sabatier), Guilaine Londez (Ms Duru), Olivia Côte (Marlène Peillard), Lucie Desclozeaux (Laure)
International Sales: StudioCanal
This earnest schoolyard drama probes the moral and ethical dilemmas a teacher faces when emotional entanglements put her on a collision course with her professional responsibilities. For Florence, teaching isn’t a job, it’s a calling. She is so devoted to her students that she sometimes forgets that she is a divorced mother with a son of her own for which to care. When Florence encounters Sacha, an angry and emotionally abandoned child, her protective instincts take over, and she makes it her mission to save him from both an abusive mother as well as the institutional indifference of foster care. But the teacher is forced to learn a thing or two when she meets Mathieu, the ex-boyfriend of Sacha’s mother. Impetuous, emotional, live-for-the-moment Mathieu may not be the best father figure for young Sacha, but those same traits make him romantically irresistible to Florence. Sara Forestier (Suzanne COLCOA 2014), whose star has steadily ascended since her César-winning turn in The Names of Love(2010), anchors the classroom scenes with a satisfying slice-of-life performance.
Although writer/director Hélène Angel is best known for social dramas like her Golden Leopard-winning debut, Skin of Man, Heart of Beast(1999), her films are remarkably eclectic. The Red Knight (2003) is a medieval fantasy starring Daniel Auteuil as an immortal knight on a mission for the Pope. Her 2007 Arté documentary Hôtel des longues peines examined the lives of women whose men are serving time in prison. Forbidden House (2011) slyly combines elements of psychological horror and ghost story. Angel was looking for a more immersive approach with Elementary. She spent two years in a grade school researching that universe. Angel wrote the screenplay with Yann Coridian, in collaboration with Agnès de Sacy and Chocolat co-writer Olivier Gorce.