Over the last few years, practicing physician Thomas Lilti has carved out a unique place for himself in French cinema as a commercially successful writer-director with a specialization in the medical field. His nearly anthropological but always engrossing approach to various aspects of contemporary French medicine has unfolded in a series of entertaining fiction films. After tackling life in under-staffed, over-stressed hospitals and the struggles of France’s rare country doctors, Lilti turns to the first year of medical school, with an utterly fascinating—not to say terrifying—account of the preparations medical students must go through for a make or break examination that will alone determine whether they are able to pursue a medical career. The Freshmen tells the story of Antoine and Benjamin, two young men who become study buddies in the hellish months of relentless cramming leading up to this life-changing test. While Antoine is on his third try and desperate to succeed, Benjamin, the son of a prominent surgeon, is fresh out of high school, unsure what he wants, but naturally gifted at medicine. Their differing fortunes highlight the injustices of a savagely competitive, in many ways antiquated system that tends to perpetuate class differences.
Darina Al Joundi
Distrib Films US
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