A beautifully made film that refuses to pull any punches, It All Starts Today tackles one of modern society’s most pressing issues with honesty, sensitivity and above all practicality. It’s a long, very serious film, but it’s well worth a look, especially in the wake of high-profile youth crimes such as the recent shootings in American high schools. Although this film doesn’t deal with that–it starts much earlier….
Daniel (Torreton) is a kindergarten teacher in northern France. But his lively passion for his young students is strained by the effects of high unemployment (30 percent) in his town: broken and apathetic parents who can’t afford to pay their rent or utilities, not to mention little things like clean clothes or healthy food. Soon Daniel is campaigning on their behalf to social services, but finding that the state has turned their backs on these people as well. Then things get even worse–child abuse, illness, death, mistrust–both among his students and in his personal life. And yet, just as things hit rock bottom, his girlfriend (Pitarresi) and a helpful social worker (Kaci) find a spark of hope.
Yes, this is heavy stuff, examining a critical flaw in contemporary society that may prove our undoing. But it’s also marvellously realistic and avoids turning into a political treatise by centring on the personal implications instead. The performances are all so natural that you often feel you’re watching a fly-on the-wall documentary … although one produced with the skill and polish of a veteran like Tavernier. It’s also one of those rare foreign-language films that is so gripping you never realise you’re reading subtitles. An important film that deserves to be seen.