A gentle, unashamedly feel-good movie, Les Choristes chronicles a chilly French school for troubled boys through the lens of a choirmaster's journal. Clement Mathieu (Gerard Jugnot) arrives at his new job as a teacher at a boarding school only to find the discipline there harsh and unforgiving. A failed composer, Mathieu gradually works up the nerve to attempt to soften his ruffians through beautiful music, even at the likely expense of his career. Though there are basically no surprises in Les Choristes, the film manages to retain the innocent charm Mathieu sees in his students. The film's score is the only part of the movie that is occasionally too cloying, evoking the central songs with overly-dramatic piano too much of the time, but as this movie is striving to be some sort of French children's Commitments, it seems likely that this device will work well on the numerous older moms who will no doubt run out and buy the soundtrack. We all know there's no way Mathieu will get through his pet project unscathed, especially in the face of the brutal headmaster, who's forever trying to save face through discipline. With a nearly full choir (and the petit mascot Pepinot, who apparently is just there to be cute), Mathieu takes the choir underground, attempting to subvert the system through the gift of song, with the forgotten finding hope from the forgotten. Though the ending is peculiarly neat (you can just do that?) this tearjerker isn't a bad ride. (Alliance Atlantis)