Last Featured: March 26, 2014
When a substitute teacher arrives to reestablish order after a popular middle school teacher has hanged himself, he must learn to navigate both his own personal crises and a rigid school bureaucracy.
The Canadian film industry has a penchant for turning stories about weightier subjects into touching and intimate narratives. These stories often produce enough laughs to put whatever tragedy the characters face into perspective, which is a refreshingly realistic way to look at the problems that bog us down in life.
The Oscar-nominated Monsieur Lazhar begins disturbingly: a middle school student is the first to arrive in his classroom, only to discover that his popular teacher has hanged herself from a light fixture. When a substitute teacher arrives to reestablish order and help the children deal with their grief, we see that he has some issues of his own to settle—and that his credentials are not quite what they seem. Monsieur Lazhar, delicately played by the Algerian-born Mohamed Saïd Fellag, is a breath of fresh air. While building a relationship with his new students, Lazhar must navigate both his own personal crises and a rigid school bureaucracy all while in crisis mode. He carefully employs a balance of discipline and empathy, bringing laughter back into the classroom in a way that is truly inspirational.
Monsieur Lazhar is a gentle treasure, a movie that measures out its wisdom in wonderfully understated observations and detail. If you’re looking for something thoughtful and sweet, this French-language film will be a perfect fit.