MOVIES
Review

'On the Way to School' a lesson in determination

A stirring French documentary follows four globally scattered students' arduous daily treks for education

Carpooling isn't an option for Jackson, Zahira, Carlos and Samuel, the students profiled in the stirring, tenderly observed French documentary "On the Way to School."

Living in four remote corners of the world, these committed kids never take their education for granted, with commutes that would put even your grandfather's most embellished childhood claims to shame.

For Kenya's 11-year-old Jackson and his younger sister, their 9.3-mile trek each way can take two hours — more if they have to alter their route to avoid rampaging elephants.

In Morocco, 12-year-old Zahira and her two best friends require four hours to travel by foot through the rugged Atlas Mountains each week to reach their boarding school; while in southern India, disabled Samuel, 13, must be pushed every day in his corroded wheelchair by his two brothers, navigating rivers, soft dirt and ultimately a flat tire.

At least 11-year-old Argentine Carlos and his younger sister can share a horse to traverse the rocky Patagonian plateau for their twice-daily 11.2-mile commute.

Dispensing with any heated rhetoric about the sorry state of education, director Pascal Plisson instead allows this quartet of beautifully photographed incredible journeys speak inspirational volumes.

For these passionate, knowledge-craving young people, the daily life lessons they're taught begin hours before they reach their classrooms.

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"On the Way to School."

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 17 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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