After François Hollande´s victory in the last French presidential elections, Algerian flags have been seen in the Place de la Bastille. Not really surprising. Thousands of Algerians immigrate to France every year. An old French colony, Algeria is the second largest francophone country in the world. Although not an impressive number, approximately 50,000 people of Algerian origin reside in Canada today. The country is known for welcoming immigration, but you go a bit further and you discover that, differently for what is jokily said, they don´t beg people to live there, unless you fill in certain requirements.
"Monsieur Lazhar" tells not only the story of an Algerian immigrant struggling to get political asylium in Canada, but the story of a multicutural and young country discovering its own identity and, consequently, its own limits and weaknesses. How many immigrants couldn´t repeat Alice´s words?
"My school is beautiful. Maybe not the most beautiful, but it's mine. So...
At first, when I started coming here, my mom kept saying how nice it was.
Personally, I found it ok... But now, six years later, I also think it's really nice. Because it's mine. A big yard to play soccer and basketball, where parents drop their kids off in the morning. They take care of us, check to see if we have lice, how our teeth are, if we're aggressive or hyperactive. But this nice school is where Martine Lachance hanged herself. With her blue scarf from the big pipe on a Wednesday night. (...) Martine must've been discouraged with her life. The last thing she did was kick her chair to make it fall over. Sometimes I wonder if she wasn't sending a violent message."
The anguish of relocation is algo the anguish of the kids having to deal with their teacher´s death. While some people fight for life, others give up without explanation. Here we have the opposition between Martine and Lazhar´s wife, between freedom and opression. Despite the differences, resamblances: their belongings. When Lazhar uses his wife´s stamp on assignments, he is taking Martine along with him.
In the most majority of moves about teachers and students, the new teacher always brings a fresh air. Monsieur Lazhar, on the other hand, brings back the methods and rigor of old times, along, however, with a real passion for kids. Indirectly, the movie questions the modern teaching methods that include a constant parental intervention and that ultimately undermine the teacher-student relationship.
Counting with an amazing leading actor and a great cast - if they made a remake of "My Girl', Sophie Nélisse just had to play Vada, due to her resemblance to that young Anna Chlumsky - "Monsieur Lazhar" perfectly balances fiction and reality, finding the accurate measure of drama required.