Charlie the World Movies Critic: ‘Monsieur Lazhar’ Review

  • Charlie the World Movies Critic: ‘Monsieur Lazhar’ Review
  • World Movies admin
  • January 28, 2014

Canadian writer/director Philippe Falardeau has adapted this touching story from the award-winning one-man stage play by Evelyne de la Cheneliere. This emotive and tender film was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar and was also won the 2012 Sydney Film Festival Audience Award.

Monsieur Lazhar follows the collective sorrow experienced by a school community after a teacher commits suicide in her classroom. Upon seeing an advertisement for the replacement position, Bashir Lazhar – played by Algerian star Mohamed Fellag – approaches the principal to take on the grief-stricken class. However, he isn’t without his own demons, having fled terrorism in Algeria as an asylum-seeker to search for a better life in Montreal.

As the film unfolds, we see a beautiful depth and honesty from the cast members depicting the young school children. One performance that in particular caught my attention was Alice, played by Sophie NĂ©lisse from the current buzz film The Book Thief. Even at her young age there’s a sense that she has a long and successful career ahead. Her range of emotion and onscreen presence are admirable.

There were a few moments where I felt as though the director underestimates the viewer, not allowing us to connect the dots for ourselves, and perhaps divulging a little too much information or overexposing the narrative.

Although this film deals with contentious issues such as suicide and asylum-seeking, it does so in such a sweet and gentle manner that makes these topics accessible to all audiences.

Monsieur Lazhar – a tender and heartbreaking story told with great honesty and integrity.

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