Perhaps it is a testament to the real poverty in French cinema at the moment that the really big box office successes from over the channel seem to be stuffed to the gills with cute kids. The Chorus is the life-affirming* tale of the difference a music teacher made to the lives of some unruly kids in a French boarding school in 1949. It is as light, fluffy and thoroughly predictable as it sounds: the power of choral music wiping clean all the horrors these children have seen.

But what of these horrors. This film is set in 1949, and the kids are about thirteen. Therefore they spent their formative years in an occupied country. There are kids here who are orphans, and some growing up without fathers. And yet all of this is to a great degree glossed over. Mohrange, the disruptive lead kid with the angelic voice, is shown to be unruly because he has a single mother. Pépinot, the pesonification of cuteness, is an orphan. Yet we never see any of the other children with normalized parental relationships, and why should they? They are in a strict boarding school. The film reduces the kids problems to an abusive headmaster, and that is solved easily by singing.

If The Chorus had been a British film things would have been much darker. Vera Drake is set at a similar time and is all drab greens and post-war darkness. The Chorus is sunny, light and the war is barely mentioned. Instead it is Etre Et Avoir in a mythical idyllic past. Consider this: at the end of the film our music teacher is fired. He thinks very little of taking the orphan boy with him, despite this clearly being kidnap. No manner of cute smiles, choral music and dappled sunset shots can obscure the incongruity of a film that says this is alright. File under cliche defining.

*Well, I had to check my pulse at the end to see if I was still alive.