To Be and to Have


Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Sep 23, 2014
    This movie is a portal, leading to a living museum of childhood at its most poignant.
  2. 100
    Nothing momentous happens here, but Philibert has a magical sense of how to find the simple poetry lurking in the universal routine of being a kid. A lot of the film's lyricism is extracurricular.
  3. So superb, so graceful, so strong -- another beauty in this year of good documentaries -- that I do believe it will influence career choices, sending inspired viewers to study pedagogy, or cinematography.
  4. 100
    Hypnotically absorbing film.
  5. 100
    Little miracles spring up throughout this picture.
  6. Watching a group of kindergartners learning to crack an egg into a bowl is hardly the stuff of drama, and yet watching it, you suspect that something important is happening. And it is.
  7. Reviewed by: Lisa Nesselson
    Any negative stereotypes viewers might harbor about education in rural communities are sent packing by this magnificently lensed and cumulatively touching account from documaker Nicolas Philibert.
  8. "You'll have to be patient." Philibert said, "That's the point." This is the film's success: its patience, which in a way mirrors the teacher's.
  9. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    It is, simply and stirringly, a kind of beau ideal of education, a vision of how the process can work at its best.
  10. 90
    This heart-wrenching documentary about a French village schoolteacher at work offers the comedy and pathos of great drama and the visual magnificence of painting.
  11. 90
    To Be and To Have works in the grandest tradition of documentary filmmaking -- it keeps company with a small, specific place going about its business, and from it parses the whole world.
  12. Amounts to a rare gift and an opportunity to appreciate the end of an era and celebrate one of the screen's most subtly etched heroes: the soft-spoken Monsieur Georges Lopez.
  13. 88
    One of the year's most engaging films.
  14. Exhibiting the same sort of patience as his sensible hero, Philibert has created an extraordinarily humane portrait of a partnership between one adult and his very fortunate charges.
  15. A deceptively simple French film about teaching that keeps enlarging as you watch it, becoming beautiful and inspiring in a way most films never touch.
  16. Gradually and inexorably, the small crises of the children assume a poignant dramatic profluence, and the soothing patience of the teacher begins to have an almost hypnotically balming effect on the viewer.
  17. The emotional honesty of this movie rescues it from sentimentality. To Be and to Have is about more than a dedicated teacher and his pupils; it’s about how difficult and exhilarating it is to grow into an adult.
  18. Full of observed life, the movie is also a bit of a vacuum, and once we register our admiration for Lopez, we can hardly help contemplating the cold equations of the students' futures, their uneducated families, and the rapturously desolate farmland around them.
  19. The interest of To Be and to Have, though, is not sociological: it is not really about the French educational system, rural life or even the way children learn. It is, rather, the portrait of an artist, a man whose work combines discipline and inspiration and unfolds mysteriously and imperceptibly.
  20. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: David Denby
    A deeply satisfying aesthetic and pedagogic experience--though Americans may find themselves wondering how such terrific children can grow into such irritating adults.
  21. Part of what makes a great documentary great is the subject, and though the film never scrapes below the surface of the schoolteacher -- we never find out if he lives alone or has children of his own -- Lopez pulls as hard on the imagination as a fictional character.
  22. 80
    An early shot of two turtles crawling through the classroom establishes the film's deliberate pace, and To Be And To Have benefits from the care.
  23. For better and for worse, this is seductive storytelling as well as investigative journalism, and I wasn't always sure which mode I was in.
  24. 100 minutes spent watching children struggle and delight in learning is, at least in my book, 100 minutes happily spent.
  25. Gets its punch from simple scenes and conversations.
  26. 60
    Simple but deeply touching documentary.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 28 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 13
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 13
  3. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Oct 26, 2014
    This movie is beautiful in so many ways - the main character's unaffected and honest way of communicating with the kids, the charming setting,This movie is beautiful in so many ways - the main character's unaffected and honest way of communicating with the kids, the charming setting, the melancholic feel of knowing that this is the final year of so so many for the teacher/ protagonist. If you need something to watch that will make you feel warm and fuzzy (and perhaps shed a tear) look no further - a beautifully executed film about a wonderful man that will fill you with hope, no matter how cynical you may feel. Full Review »
  2. Jun 18, 2012
    [Simple but deeply touching, Magical sense of warmth, Graceful, Emotional absorbing]
    The sense of simpliness, incnocence and truthfulness
    [Simple but deeply touching, Magical sense of warmth, Graceful, Emotional absorbing]
    The sense of simpliness, incnocence and truthfulness astonishingly constructs one of the most unique and incredibly heart-warming films ever created. A Remarkable Accomplishment in the World of Film.
    Full Review »
  3. SteveF.
    Mar 11, 2008
    A feast for the eyes, mind, and heart. It is hard to imagine a better teacher, or a film better at catching the mystery of teaching.