Teaching is one of the most important professions there are; yet it suffers lingering prejudices. More often than not, schools are credited for the failures of students rather than their successes.
In stark contrast with this regrettable disregard, one man fully trusts the institution of Éducation nationale in Serge Bozon’s astonishing new film Madame Hyde. It is the colorful headmaster (Romain Duris) of a technical high school, who believes in his mission, unaffected by his establishment’s “problems.” The shy physics teacher, Mrs. Géquil (Isabelle Huppert), endures daily chaos consisting of teasing jibes, each one more inventive than the next. She seems too small and too weak to tackle the immense challenge of instilling a desire to learn in her charges. That is, until an after-hours research experiment provides the other kind of charge: a bolt of lightning through her frail body. Needless to say, a transformation ensues.
The film resists, with the same insolence as an impatient pupil, any attempt to trap it with categorization. A miracle of subtlety (no need for heavy make-up in Huppert’s metamorphosis), the film guides us, like the best of teachers, through insightful considerations and intriguing excursions. Regularly, it shocks us with glorious bursts of zany humor.
One of the shrewdest films ever made about education, Madame Hyde is dead serious about its subject, yet never takes itself too seriously. A pupil gives the ultimate demonstration of how to speak for long enough without knowing your subject. But another one’s face is illuminated with joy as he cries “I got it!” He can’t hyde that fire within.Aurélie Godet