SKIRT DAY A third-act reveal in writer-director Jean-Paul Lilienfeld's Skirt Day is meant to make viewers recast everything they've seen in the last 90 minutes, to transform the film's incendiary take on “the new France” into a subversive feminist tract. But the “gotcha” is too heavy-handed in its irony to fully work that way. After emotionally and psychologically fragile schoolteacher Sonia Bergerac (a plump Isabelle Adjani, whose character is nicknamed “fat ass” by students) accidentally uncovers a gun while attempting to confiscate a belligerent student's backpack, she's soon holding her hip-hop–inflected, multicultural class hostage. Waving the weapon around over the course of the next several hours, she fires off shots while taking verbal aim at the kids' laziness, racism, materialism, sexual hypocrisy and basic stupidity. As a reluctant negotiator races against the clock to diffuse the situation, the gun changes hands a few times in the classroom, power shifts and then shifts again, and Islam takes quite a few on the chin. Yet another entry in the cinematic exorcising of France's anguished psyche over its new complexion and clashing cultures, Skirt Day is the right-leaning counterpart to Laurent Cantet's left-leaning, better written (more psychologically astute and complex) The Class, though it does score some valid points. It's also an unintentionally comedic dismantling of claptrap American cousins like Dangerous Minds — as Mme. Bergerac's head-butting of a student makes crystal clear. (Ernest Hardy) (Music Hall)
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