You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Class

Brutal bullying catalyzes a high school massacre in the harrowing teen drama "The Class."

With: Vallo Kirs, Part Usuberg, Lauri Pedaja, Paula Solvak, Mikk Magi.

Brutal bullying catalyzes a high school massacre in the harrowing teen drama “The Class.” Provocative, naturalistic pic should put Estonian helmer Ilmar Raag on the radar of top industry brass. Like “Elephant,” it’s inspired by the Columbine tragedy, but unlike Gus Van Sant’s film, it posits a rationale for the violence. More controversially, it puts auds in the uncomfortable position of wanting the bullies severely punished. Euro arthouse play is assured, with sale of remake rights a possibility. Stateside success is less likely due to American sensitivity to the topic, particularly the way Raag frames the inevitability of the finale.

Well-made pic perfectly captures the fraught world of public high school, from nasty student cliques to well-meaning but oblivious teachers. Parental figures, too, are clueless. Debuting writer-director Raag workshopped the storyline with the 15 main members of his nonpro teen cast and credits them with helping achieve the right tone.

Tale unfolds from the p.o.v. of two ostracized students. Main victim is 16-year-old Joosep (Part Usuberg), whose hunched shoulders and deer-in-the-headlights stare indicate he’s long been the butt of his classmates’ taunting. Confident, good-looking Kaspar (Vallo Kirs), on the other hand, moves from being one of Joosep’s tormentors to serving as his protector.

Country lad Kaspar is new to the school, and at first just wants to fit in. Although the popular kids don’t invite him to their parties, he begins a tentative relationship with pretty blonde Thea (Paula Solvak).

When the boys push the naked Joosep into the girls’ changing room and hold the door shut, Kaspar interrupts the proceedings at Thea’s request. His intervention doesn’t go down well with Anders (Lauri Pedaja), the class’ alpha male, who also covets Thea’s attention and contrives to have the others shun Kaspar as well.

The more Kaspar feels honor-bound to protect Joosep, the more the others bedevil him. Over the course of a week, Joosep suffers increasingly severe humiliations. By the time Anders’ gang devises its ultimate torture, viewers are definitely rooting for the beleaguered boys to take revenge. Sadly, extreme violence is the only route they consider.

The entire cast of young thesps is convincing. Kristjan-Jaak Nuudi’s eye-catching camerawork and Tambet Tasuja’s at times MTV-like cutting match their high-energy perfs.

When it was released earlier this year, pic rose to second place at the Estonian box office. In Karlovy Vary, it nabbed the Europa Cinemas Label prize, which supports European distribution.

The Class


Production: An Amrion presentation, in association with Estonian Television, with the participation of the Estonian Film Foundation, Estonian Cultural Endowment. (International sales: NonStop Sales, Stockholm.) Produced by Riina Sildos. Executive producer, Kaspar Kaljas. Directed, written by Ilmar Raag.

Crew: Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Kristjan-Jaak Nuudi; editor, Tambet Tasuja; music, Timo Steiner, Paul Oja, Part Usuberg, Martin "Eskimo" Kallasvee; art director, Eva-Maria Gramakovski; costume designer, Agne Talu; sound (Dolby Digital), Kristian Miilen. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (East of the West), June 30, 2007. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: With: Vallo Kirs, Part Usuberg, Lauri Pedaja, Paula Solvak, Mikk Magi.

More Film

  • Shailene Woodley probation Dakota Pipeline protest

    Cannes: Infotainment China Media Snaps Up "Misanthrope"

    Chinese sales and distribution company Infotainment China Media has bought the China rights to “Misanthrope,” the new serial killer thriller starring Shailene Woodley, from FilmNation Entertainment at Cannes. Woodley (“Big Little Lies”, the “Divergent” franchise”) will play a cop recruited by the FBI to hunt down a murderer. Damian Szifron (“Wild Tales”) and Jonathan Wakeham [...]

  • Watch Karen O & Danger Mouse’s

    Watch Karen O & Danger Mouse’s ‘Encounter With Lux Prima’ Documentary (EXCLUSIVE)

    Karen O & Danger Mouse’s “Lux Prima” is one of the year’s best albums so far — but it’s more than an album. “An Encounter with Lux Prima – The Art of Collaboration,” a short documentary chronicling the 18-month development of their multisensory art installation “An Encounter With Lux Prima” premieres today exclusively on Variety. [...]

  • Willem Dafoe Talks 'The Lighthouse' and

    Willem Dafoe on His New Films 'The Lighthouse' and 'Tommaso,' Robert Pattinson as Batman

    Willem Dafoe has spent the last two awards seasons on the campaign trail. The actor earned back-to-back Oscar nominations for his work in 2017’s “The Florida Project” and for last year’s “At Eternity’s Gate.” And if the critical reaction to “The Lighthouse” is any indication, he’ll be back on it soon. “The Lighthouse” is director [...]

  • Official First Look at the Women

    'Terminator: Dark Fate': Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger Return in First Trailer

    The Resistance’s war against Skynet rages on with the sixth installment of the “Terminator” series, “Terminator: Dark Fate.” The first trailer for the latest movie dropped on Thursday. The clip opens with two franchise newcomers, Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes, as they’re being pursued by a Terminator (Gabriel Luna), one that seems to have some [...]

  • Malcom McLaren’s Son Joe Corré Preps

    Malcom McLaren’s Son Joe Corré Preps ‘Wake Up Punk’ Feature Doc (EXCLUSIVE)

    Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s son Joe Corré has voiced his opposition to a Sex Pistols feature film in the works, and is about to launch his own project, “Wake Up Punk.” The feature documentary will follow events after his decision to burn punk memorabilia worth millions of pounds. John Lydon has already tweeted that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content