Class Trip (1998)

Clément van den Bergh, Emmanuelle Bercot, Yves Verhoeven, Lokman Nalcakan,
A schoolboy Nicholas always worries about something. When he goes on a school skiing trip, all his visions and nightmares take him over.
  • 6.8 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Emmanuel Carrère, Writer:
  • Claude Miller, Director:
  • Annie Miller, Producer:


7 / 10

Nicely modulated mood piece, if not quite as disturbing as the book

Screenplay coauthored by Miller and Emmanuel Carrière from the latter's successful and disquieting little mystery-thriller novel about an overprotected, highly sensitive boy whose dreams and fantasies of danger while on a stay in the mountains with his school may or may not presage real events.

Such a movie has plusses and minuses: it allows the filmmakers to bring the feverish visions of young Nicolas (Clément ven den Bergh) to vivid life, but it somewhat undermines the sense of uncertainty about what is real or imagined that makes the book effective.

The boy is stronger than I imagined him reading the story. Let's say that the actor puts on a face of shyness and gloom but I don't quite believe it. Still, as a viewer commented on the French website Allociné, "I feel this film does not betray the book." Apparently not shown widely or at all in the US. Beautifully done with excellent restraint, true to the book's muted style, a minor triumph for the underwhelming Miller, whose last admired film was The Little Thief/La petite voleuse with Charlotte Gainsbourg in 1988. Tied for Jury Prize at Cannes, nominated for Golden Palm.

I wanted to see this because I'd read the book. Easy French. This brought it all back, but wasn't quite as disturbing because you know the fantasies are fantasies, every time. In the book it's from the boy's point of view and you aren't always so sure. Lots of closeups of ven den Bergh's face don't make us see entirely through his eyes. It's all more externalized. Still, a nicely modulated mood piece, an excellent evocation of the darker side of childhood imagination. It's not so easy to be a kid. We forget that sometimes.

7 / 10

Thrilling moments that kept me glued to the screen.

There are both problem children and problem parents. In this TV movie Nicolas has an over-protective father who will not allow his son to ride on the school bus on their holiday excursion to the mountains. He explains that there are criminals around who kidnap children from side-walks, playgrounds etc. Nicolas being a sensitive child elaborates on his father's fears and has regular bouts of day-dreaming as well as horrific nightmares. This makes interesting entertainment. I like the intercutting of dreams and reality. The horror mounts from scene to scene in a confusing mixture. Nicolas confides to his friend Hodkann that organised criminals pounce on children and cut out their kidneys and livers in mobile hospitals. Sad-faced Nicolas is convincing as the imaginative child. He tells Hodkann that he is an informer and that he helps his father in seeking out these traffickers in human organs. Nicolas also reads horror stories at bed-time. "The Monkey's Paw" scene is a brilliant piece of technical manipulation. Nicolas asks his tutor if it is possible to make things happen just by thinking hard enough about them. This theme is pursued in many scenes where Nicolas manipulates scenes on the television screen e.g. he imagines his father in an automobile accident. I have the feeling that Nicolas is a really mixed up kid and his psychological problems result in worrying bed-wettings. This is alluded to constantly. Clement van der Bergh with his sad and unsmiling face is admirable as young Nicolas, and in contrast we have his happy-go-lucky friend Hodkann in constant awe of Nicolas's imaginative stories. The film centres about their friendship and their adventures. Their warm relationship is convincing. An early scene (actually a nightmare) shows an assassination of virtually everyone by terrorists who attack the mountain lodge. Yes, it's an exciting film that keeps you awake to the end.

7 / 10

Well made film.

This is a quite fascinating French movie, that I wouldn't call great but is a throughout good watch nevertheless.

Thing that really uplifts this movie is its directing. It makes this a great and beautiful looking one. It has a great directing style, that provides the movie with a great overall atmosphere. The movie at times picks a surreal approach and the story is being told and developed slowly.

And while the movie is intriguing to watch throughout, I still wished it had a somewhat better story to work with, or that it got told just a little bit better all. Because the movie picks a more stylish approach, this really starts to go at the expense of the story. Not everything gets developed properly and some things just don't get resolved at all. In the end this is a movie that will leave you with more questions than answers. This doesn't really ruin the movie or anything and it's still a good and intriguing watch but I feel that with some more story and some better development this could had been a so much better and more memorable, unique little film. To me, the movie now is just too empty, to leave a big impression, let alone a very lasting one.

It's also quite hard to say what audience this movie is really for. It's one that tells the story from the perspective of a young boy but I really wouldn't call this a children's movie. It's also not really a coming of age flick and its more being a drama-thriller, told from the mind and viewpoint of a child, which still leaves the question to what audience this movie is aimed to. A simple answer would just be movie-lovers, fore this is also really a movie that isn't just for everybody's taste. Some people might find the lack of pace and occurrences too much of a miss, while others will surely be able to appreciate the style and approach this movie is taking.

The movie doesn't feature the best acting I have ever seen in a French movie and I actually thought at first that this was one of those movies that used non-professional actors, to make the movie and story work out more as a realistic one. But as it turns out all of the persons involved are actually actors, with more working experience in the business. A bit disappointing but those who don't speak or understand the language will hardly have any problems with it.

Nevertheless I still really foremost liked this movie, due to its fine directing approach, which kept this movie a good and intriguing watch throughout.


5 / 10

Well-directed but pretty ho-hum French thriller

Using dreams as a means of expressing a character's hidden fears and desires is an old trick, and Claude Miller overdoes it; there are probably more dream sequences than actual events in this movie. Some of them are startling (one involving a severed talking head, another a machine-gun massacre), but the story is boring (you don't have to be a detective to figure out the truth), and the kid is boring, too, with a fixed stare that never changes throughout the film (though it's probably not his fault, but Miller's). "La Classe De Neige" belongs in a subgenre that could be called "the world from a child's point of view", but doesn't make its way into the top of the list. (**)

8 / 10

Growing up French style.

Not another coming of age film! It is but with the sinister twist of Claude Miller in control of poor boy Nicholas and his hang-ups. This is a fascinating entry into the mind of a young boy who is going through the motions of adjusting to life while on a school camp. There are certain elements surrounding him that make it that little bit complicated for our hero. And if you can relate to it, (like I did and now I'm a bit worried about it), then you will truly understand the boy's plight.