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Monsieur Lazhar

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Canada · 2011
Rated PG-13 · 1h 34m
Director Philippe Falardeau
Starring Mohamed Fellag, Émilien Néron, Danielle Proulx, Sophie Nélisse
Genre Comedy, Drama

During a harsh Montréal winter, an elementary school class is left reeling after their teacher commits suicide. Bachir, a charismatic Algerian immigrant, steps in as 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 immense 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.

What are critics saying?


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]


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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