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Monsieur Lazhar

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Canada

2011

Rated PG-13 • 1h34

Philippe Falardeau

Director

Mohamed Fellag, Émilien Néron, Danielle Proulx, Sophie Nélisse

Stars

Comedy, Drama

Genre

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During a harsh Montréal winter, an elementary school class is left reeling after their teacher dies by suicide. Bachir Lazhar, a charismatic Algerian immigrant, steps in as the substitute. While his students grieve, he must conceal the fact that he is seeking political refuge in Québec and that he, like the children, has suffered an appalling loss.

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WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

Jamie Bitz Profile picture for Jamie Bitz

There are no flashy, over-done moments in "Monsieur Lazhar"--it is a sublimely human drama, more like a character study than a feature film. The simplicity of the film makes it all the more heart-breakingly beautiful. Although the ending is melancholy and even somewhat unresolved (much like our own lives), the viewer feels more hope than sadness as the credits roll.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

50

The New Yorker by David Denby

The movie is so discreet and respectful that, outside the classroom, within whose walls the glory of French literature and language triumph, it never quite comes to life. [16 April 2012, p. 86]
60

Time Out by Eric Hynes

Fellag does for the film what his Lazhar does for the pupils: He's soothing and entrancingly enigmatic enough to keep us fixed to our seats.
100

The Globe and Mail (Toronto) by Jennie Punter

It's an exquisite, humanistic and subtly topical work of cinema art that manages to keep the intimate, revelatory sensibility of a one-man play intact while fleshing out the characters and creating a very realistic and richly detailed school community.
63

Slant Magazine by Jesse Cataldo

There's great potential for the kind of issues that are taken on, but nothing is resolved, and the biggest questions, of guilt and shame, the gulf of understanding between the first world and the third, remain unengaged.
80

Boxoffice Magazine by Pete Hammond

The kids, especially Néron and Nélisse are irresistible and supporting players are well-cast. Human dramas like Monsieur Lazhar are a rare breed these days and this exceptional example is one to be cherished.
88

Miami Herald by Rene Rodriguez

Monsieur Lazhar doesn't send you home depressed. Instead, the film leaves you hopeful, and even exhilarated, that even the most painful wounds can sometimes heal.

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