• James Rutherford

'Monsieur Lazhar': A Beautiful, Heartrending Depiction of Loss and Reconciliation


Movie poster for the film Monsieur Lazhar starring Mohamed Fellag

"Monsieur Lazhar" (2011) is a somber, absorbing French-language drama from Québec, Canada about an Algerian immigrant living in Montreal, the titular Mr. Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag), who begins a new position as elementary school teacher.


Mr. Lazhar's appointment follows the stunning suicide of the class’ previous instructor, Martine Lachance, who hangs herself and is regrettably found by one of her students. Unable to locate an immediate replacement, the principal Madame Vaillancourt (Danielle Proulx) acquiesces to an unexpected offer from Mr. Lazhar to take charge of the classroom, even as he secretly harbors his own history of family tragedy. Ultimately Lazhar proves to be a capable and adroit educator, though somewhat out-of-touch with modern form, and brings comfort and stability to the children still reeling from the death of their beloved Martine.


Written and directed by Philippe Falardeau ("The Good Lie", "My Internship in Canada") and based on the play "Bashir Lazhar" by Evelyne de la Chenelière, "Monsieur Lazhar" is a genuine and supremely empathetic cinematic creation. It serves as a wonderfully touching depiction of grief and loss, touched with a profound and remarkable air of human reconciliation.

 

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