School’s Out (L’heure de la sortie)
18th October 2018 8.45pm at Prince Charles Cinema
19th October 2018 3.15pm at odeontcr: Odeon Tottenham Court Road
Sébastien Marnier’s L’heure De La Sortie (School’s Out) is a suspenseful psychological thriller that will get right under the skin. With some moments of brilliance and a superb idea, it almost becomes a smashing success – but a few unfortunate flaws make it miss the mark.
Substitute teacher Pierre Hoffman (Laurent Lafitte) is tasked with teaching a group of genius students after their former teacher unexpectedly leaps to his death from a top-floor classroom window. Six students, with a chilly disregard of their late educator’s suicide, give Hoffman a cold welcome, constantly questioning his abilities and intelligence. Hoffman becomes obsessed with uncovering the reason behind their curious sociopathic behaviour. Are they in shock from the suicide? Are they resentful for being bullied by their fellow students? Or are they just generally upset at the horrors of the world?
With a tension-laden sound design and effective build-up including several red herrings successfully leading the audience astray, the feature never fails to be interesting and engaging. While the pacing is good for the most part, a few moments appear slightly dragged out. The shots are generally done well, always presented from interesting angles without becoming too ambitious.
The cast is overall excellent, with Lafitte capturing his complex character superbly well. As the plot thickens, most of his choices are believable and consistently well executed. The teenage actors, too, do a lovely job of playing creepy students – especially Luàna Bajrami as the jaded Apolline.
Sadly, the symbolism is handed too heavily. Hoffman is working on a dissertation about Kafka, just to make sure we realise the director was going for a Kafkaesque tone. To make matters worse, as the protagonist grows more desperate, his flat becomes increasingly infested with cockroaches, making the reference about as subtle as a brick thrown through a window with an attached note that reads “Kafka is here!”. Furthermore, a couple of the occurrences are borderline unbelievable, ripping the viewer out of the otherwise credible build-up.
L’heure De La Sortie could have been a terrific thriller. It almost is, featuring a clever plotline and artful directing, making it an exceedingly engaging experience for the most part. The flaws just mar it too much to make it excellent. Still perfect for an entertaining, suspense-laden evening – especially if you like Kafka.
School’s Out (L’heure de la sortie) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for School’s Out (L’heure de la sortie) here: