The Class is about a middle-school teacher in the inner-city who tries to inspire his mixed-race students. Sound familiar? Don’t worry. The Class bears little resemblance to Hollywood’s well-worn take on the subject. There are no murders or rapes or gang fights or drug dealing; no bullies, no victims and no physical violence between races. Instead, what we see are teachers and students whose actions, speeches and attitudes are so realistic that in the lobby after the Academy screening, I heard one woman ask her companion if the film was a documentary. The Class is in fact based on an autobiographical novel by a teacher, François Begaudeau, who also plays the teacher in the film. My sons attended middle school in France, and they were most impressed by the extremely realistic banter amongst the students. Although some aspects of the story are specific to the French school system, the cast of classroom characters is recognizable by anyone in almost any country.