Monsieur Lazhar Review

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When a teacher commits suicide at a Montréal middle school, 55 year-old Algerian immigrant Bachir Lazhar (Fellag) offers his services as a stand-in. Despite his inexperience, he's soon helping his new charges deal with the loss and coming to terms with so


Tactfully opened out from a stage play by Évelyne de la Chenelière, Philippe Falardeau’s Oscar nominee is a potent mix of coming-of-age saga, bereavement melodrama and political parable. Hired to teach elementary kids after their teacher commits suicide in their classroom, Algerian refugee Mohamed Saïd Fellag harbours his own pain, this allowing him to heal himself while coaxing his pupils through their crisis. This could have been mawkish and Falardeau doesn’t eschew platitudes altogether. But, such is the sensitivity of the writing and direction, as well as the performances, that this remains a touching story whose insights into issues such as ethnicity, duty, violence, communication and integration are shrewd and provocative.

An Oscar nominee at this year's Academy Awards and for good reason, Falardeau's film is moving, smart and sensitive. Terrific stuff, in short.