Highlights from the French Film Festival 2010
In 2008, French teachers protested budget cuts that had stretched education resources to breaking point. Skirt Day therefore couldn’t have been timelier: a harried, barely coping teacher, worn down by taunts from students and an unsupportive bureaucracy, takes her class hostage in a moment of desperation. But timing apart, the film is a disappointingly mishandled muddle. As the handgun exchanges hands several times during the siege, it prompts multiple plot twists that are either overly obvious or unconvincing, while the sheer quantity of socio-political issues paid lip service (most awkwardly racial tensions in the banlieue), causes its fragile frame to buckle. The supporting cast are resultantly marginalised, rendered two-dimensional stereotypes of the kind the narrative otherwise makes motions to critique. But there is significant salvation in the form of a committed lead turn from Isabelle Adjani, which won her a record-breaking fifth Best Actress Cesar. Her unexpectedly complex performance earns an A+ in an otherwise D standard film.