In the Mix - Movie

Smart, politically astute films about contemporary society are hard to come by these days, except in France, which has given us a steady stream of trenchant social dramas. Bertrand Tavernier’s It All Starts Today, a 1999 film finally getting video release from Facets Multimedia, makes an outstanding addition to this list via its portrayal of a young teacher-principal struggling through the heartbreaking human dilemmas within the day-to-day operation of a preschool in a poverty-stricken mining region of northern France. The film is sensitive without being sentimental, and its quasi-documentary-style portrayal of the teachers’ multi-faceted concerns for their small pupils’ well-being takes a matter-of-fact approach to endemic social breakdowns and yet still finds heartening signs of everyday heroism. Philippe Torreton brings earthy conviction and pragmatic credibility to the teacher/poet/activist who is the film’s central character.