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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and subtle
How is a class of eleven/twelve-year olds to cope with a tragedy that suddenly and out of the blue takes away their teacher? How do parents and teachers react to the trauma the children are experiencing? The school principal is under pressure to keep things "normal", none of the other teachers can take on the class, one school councillor is designated for the class of...
Published on March 8, 2012 by Friederike Knabe

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but two-dimensional
Monsieur Lazhar is certainly a worthy film, but in the end it is a typical product of modern "thought-provoking" cinema i.e. it ticks off a number of boxes and covers issues of migration, extremism, personal tragedy, education, suicide, and hysteria around paedophilia while never quite coalescing into a cinematic vision of life. The whole thing remains a bit superficial...
Published 8 months ago by schumann_bg


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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and subtle, March 8, 2012
How is a class of eleven/twelve-year olds to cope with a tragedy that suddenly and out of the blue takes away their teacher? How do parents and teachers react to the trauma the children are experiencing? The school principal is under pressure to keep things "normal", none of the other teachers can take on the class, one school councillor is designated for the class of twenty plus young minds - a crisis of great proportion... Into this challenging scenario walks Bashir Lazhar and offers himself as the ideal replacement teacher. With great subtlety and compassion does the film, Monsieur Lazhar, explore the evolving relationships between teacher and students, among various teachers and last but not least, between Bashir Lazhar at the school and his personal struggles beyond. While set in Montreal, Quebec, the messages of the film are nor locality specific, and could happen anywhere. The story touches on the different ways of dealing with loss and guilt, with honesty, lies and pretense, with prejudice and expediency. And finally, how the coping mechanisms of adults cannot easily be transferred to those of children living through a crisis. The story concentrates on two of the children, Simon and Alice, their growing hostility and Bashir's strict yet sensitive methods in dealing with the emotional struggles that the children go through.

Mohamed Fellag's acting in the role of Monsieur Lazhar is excellent, his interpretation of his character utterly convincing in his unassuming and often understated acting. The child actors, especially the two interpreting Simon and Alice, come across as natural and genuine. Philippe Falardeau, the film's Canadian writer/director joins Denis Villeneuve who directed "Incendies" in 2010 in gaining international recognition. Both their films were nominated for the Academy Award for best foreign-language film. [Friederike Knabe]
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very touching, June 9, 2012
By 
Donald Negri (Sacramento, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Monsieur Lazhar (DVD)
There is no shortage of good French language films about children and their teacher(s). Though this one is set in Montreal, it has many of the endearing qualities that French directors bring to their portrayal of the interaction between children and adults.

What makes this film excellent is its overall tone. It's touching, it's heartwarming and ultimately sad, but in an almost uplifting way. The acting - the children - is flawless.
And while the subject matter of death is at the core of the film, it is enveloped in a
feeling of awe and detachment at how the kids deal with it, and themselves, and a humanistic
portrayal of the teacher who has to take on the class following the suicide of their previous teacher. The teacher himself though has his own understated but real demons to cope with. But the heart of the film, including most of its scenes, take place in a classroom.

Technically, the film has a near perfect touch. Scenes end when "they should" instead of being drawn out for unneeded effect (and the ending included), histrionics are absent, and it flows like a calm stream with potentially turbulent undertones. It's a film ultimately about life, love, respect, hope and endurance.

It's a film you'll enjoy owning so that it can be viewed on multiple occasions. And being a foreign film, you can bet that most of your friends and family haven't seen it.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monsieur Lazhar -- C'est exquis!, June 14, 2012
By 
This review is from: Monsieur Lazhar (DVD)
And I don't throw that word around. Everything about this film is exquisite: the story, cinematography, editing, pertinence, depth, character development, acting, soundtrack -- and the French (my second language) is pristine. I don't recall breathing while watching it in the theatre, but I must have. The popcorn went untouched. I can hardly wait for the DVD!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compassionate. Thoughtful. Funny., February 13, 2012
A replacement teacher and his students help each other come to terms with tragedies in their lives. Compassionate, thoughtful, often very funny.

Recognizes that a modern classroom with its heavily regulated behavior can be an environment hostile to compassion and connection and addresses that both as a part of the inciting tragedy and as an obstacle to dealing with it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously good, October 8, 2012
This review is from: Monsieur Lazhar (DVD)
"Monsieur Lazhar" is a highly acclaimed Canadian French-language film set in contemporary Montréal, written and directed by Philippe Falardeau, adapted from Evelyne de la Cheneliere's original stage play. It is one of those gentle films that delivers a powerful punch, with everything beautifully understated throughout, with its events firmly rooted in reality. The acting is everywhere superb and delightfully natural, with some of the most powerful performances delivered by the children around whose lives the film really revolves. The theme of unexplained and seemingly meaningless death, the working out of grief and of guilt for the survivors is explored at many levels in subtle and sensitive ways and with no small amount of (appropriate) humour and pathos. The film also serves as something of a commentary on our times, and the paradoxically dehumanising consequences of overly rigid legislation driven by fear of litigation and in the name of human rights.

While by no means delivering very much by way of a feel good factor (and especially eschewing the altogether too obvious happy ending) the film nevertheless comes across as uplifting and enormously satisfying. Unreservedly recommended, especially as an antidote to the endless run of mindless action fodder.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, Canadian, French, School Drama, September 28, 2012
This review is from: Monsieur Lazhar (DVD)
The basis of this film is quite simple; a Montreal school teacher hangs herself in the classroom where she teaches her young charges. One of the boys Simon, discovers the body and raises the alarm. With the ensuing scandal it becomes nigh on impossible to get a replacement teacher and the kids are clearly traumatised by the whole experience.

Enter Monsieur Lazhar (Mohammed Fellag) he is from Algeria where he claims he was a teacher and he would like to step in and help. So faced with a decision of no teacher or a very keen one indeed, he gets the gig. The thing is that he is a man with a past and a tragic one too. Algeria has suffered years of terror and he and his family are one of its victims. He is also an asylum seeker and could face deportation at any time as his case is pending. This side of his life he keeps from everybody. He throws himself into connecting with the children and in doing so manages to unravel the truth of the past and the hostilities that the children have been harbouring amongst themselves.

This was an utterly absorbing film with performances from all involved that were brilliant. Emilien Neron who plays Simon is excellent but the real star is Mohammed Fellag who brings a warmth and humanity that is as touching as it is revealing about the human condition and possibly cultural attitudes.

This was taken from the play by Evelyne de la Cheneliere but has transferred to the screen with no hitches, there is a bit of love interest, no bedroom naughtiness and no real action. Yet this just shines through as a testament to great film making. In French with sub titles and a whole bucket of heart felt emotion - excellent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Poignant. Modest, and Honest!, March 11, 2013
By 
Giordano Bruno (Here, There, and Everywhere) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Monsieur Lazhar (DVD)
I'm sure I can't improve on the review that originally brought this Quebecois film to my attention. Je vous remercie profondément, Madame Knabe! Was "Monsieur Lazhar" nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for 2012 or 2011? In either case, it deserved to win just as much as whichever motion picture captured that condescending prize, including even Michael Haneke's intense "Amour." The acting is wonderfully well attuned, both from the adult teachers and from the students in a Montreal public school distraught over a well-loved teacher's suicide in her own classroom. The dynamics of faculty relations in the small school are perfectly convincing, which is not often the case in films. [I taught art and music in a grade school for two anxious semesters, by the way, decades ago at the beginning of my adult life.] As is so predictable, the brightest children are both more perceptive and more vulnerable than their teachers. It must be scary to confront such a realization for the first time as a beginning teacher. The title character, Monsieur Lazhar, has more immediate reasons to be scared, however. Only his gentle, humane decency carries him through.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite 2011 Film!, August 29, 2012
By 
Mana Ionescu "@manamica" (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
Monsieur Lazhar was my favorite film in 2011. So charming, so honest and tragic in some ways. The acting is fantastic, but it's the way the director depicts the difficult topics of immigration, and the role a well-meaning, yet imperfect teacher, plays in helping students deal with loss, is that makes this film so endearing. And despite tragedy, the film keeps a positive and hopeful note until the end. The kids are charming, the dialogue is well-paced (those who speak French will appreciate it even more but the translation is pretty accurate). It's just a gorgeous films, with the right mix of drama and hope. No wonder it was nominated for an Oscar. I highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heart-felt and warm, April 11, 2013
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This review is from: Monsieur Lazhar (Amazon Instant Video)
...and not what I expected. I wish it would have explored the main character more...I was left feeling like there was a lot left unexplored. Particularly, I felt the teacher-child bonding was not fully examined...WHY did the kids love this teacher?

That said, the acting and story were great. It says a lot that we wanted more at the end of the film.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Quiet Masterpiece, March 20, 2013
By 
Paul L Tremblay "Paul" (Herndon, VA United States) - See all my reviews
This is the rare film that feels no need to lead, to insist on a given perspective. It simply goes about its business, allowing us to observe, to share in what its wonderful characters are experiencing. Their pain, their fear, their compassion and love. And the result, at least for me, was a connection so strong that I physically felt its absence when the story ended.
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Monsieur Lazhar
Monsieur Lazhar by Philippe Falardeau
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