Monsieur Lazhar (PG)
Comparing the classroom with the protective cocoon from which the pupa emerges as an adult butterfly, Monsieur Lazhar is an exquisitely simple film about a complex subject matter. Adapted from Evelyne de la Chenelière’s stage play, there is a gentle elegance with which filmmaker Philippe Falardeau constructs the work, while the searing honesty of the youngsters (through astonishing, naturalistic performances) pierces our emotional barriers as issues about death, breaking rules and being allowed to express feelings are woven unobtrusively into the canvas of school daily life. The fact that both teacher and students are in need of protection adds greatly to the poignancy and Falardeau delivers an emotionally rich film filled with nuance, grace and subtlety.
Set in a Montreal primary school Monsieur Lazhar (Fellag), an Algerian immigrant, volunteers to teach a class after hearing of their teacher’s suicide. The film follows a year in the school, presenting a situation, exploring the people involved, but in the end showing that there are no simple answers and no simple questions. Despite the subject matter, the film plays lightly and with humour.
This is a film that has something to say and bursts at the seams to deliver its touching message.
Cast: Mohamed Fellag, Sophie Nelisse, Emilien Neron
Awards: Academy Award nominee for best foreign language film 2012. Winner of six Genie awards in 2012 for best film, direction, screenplay, best actor and supporting actress.
Phillippe Falardeau | French-Canadian | 2011 | 94 mins | PG
Weighted vote 88.6%