Private: To Be and To Have

Because he’s trying to learn French for work, David watches a lot of French television. He often complains it’s kind of slow — like looking out a window at the lawn. To Be and To Have, the French documentary film we rented last night, does indeed start out very slowly with a series of winter images. In fact, there’s a point near the beginning where we watch a little girl gazing out the window of her schoolbus at the snow-covered scenery for a rather long time. “Man,” said David. “This is like looking out a window at someone looking out a window.” Soon after that, though, the little girl arrives at school and the story begins. If you can get that far, this quiet movie (about a year in a single-classroom school) is charming and hilarious. And sad.