French cinema looked like it was about to deliver a break-out hit in La Melodie, about a glum and frustrated concert violinist, Simon Dauod (Kad Merad), who takes a job teaching music to the rainbow nation of cute kids in an inner-city school.
Sure enough, Simon soon has previously uninterested and bickering 12-year-olds coming together to prepare a promised concert at the Philharmonic and pretty soon, Arnold, Samir, Baboukar, Yael et al are fiddling on the roof of their high-rise council block with the Eiffel Tower glittering in the distance.
There’s even a scene of their multi-racial parents all coming together to rebuild the rehearsal room after a dramatically convenient fire. It could have worked, like Dangerous Minds and Music of the Heart meet The Class, but there just isn’t enough there (Merad’s performance is uncharacteristically dour, especially for one of these ‘inspirational educator’ movies) to really herald a new success to watch out for in the crowd-pleasing mould of, say, Les Intouchables.
Still, you’d need a heart of Gustav Eiffel steel not to feel something as chubby, shy little black kid Arnold delivers his solo at the climax.