Monsieur Lazhar

2012

Monsieur Lazhar

Critics Consensus

Monsieur Lahzar is a tender and thoughtful portrait of a man with hidden grief and also a compelling exploration of the teacher-student dynamic.

97%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 118

86%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 26,251
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Movie Info

In Montreal, an elementary school teacher dies abruptly. Having learned of the incident in the newspaper, Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag), a 55-year-old Algerian immigrant, goes to the school to offer his services as a substitute teacher. Quickly hired to replace the deceased, he finds himself in an establishment in crisis, while going through his own personal tragedy. The cultural gap between Bachir and his class is made immediately apparent when he gives them a dictation exercise that is beyond their reach. Little by little, Bachir learns to better know this group of shaken but endearing kids, among whom are Alice and Simon, two charismatic pupils particularly affected by their teacher's death. While the class goes through the healing process, nobody in the school is aware of Bachir's painful past; nor do they suspect that he is at risk of being deported at any moment. -- (C) Music Box

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Critic Reviews for Monsieur Lazhar

All Critics (118) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (115) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for Monsieur Lazhar

  • Jan 26, 2014
    At school, Simon(Emilien Neron) is assigned to get the milk when he discovers his beloved teacher hanging from the ceiling of her classroom. Even with the teachers trying to keep all the other students away, Alice(Sophie Nelisse) also witnesses the grisly sight. After the classroom is painted and a psychologist is hired, Ms. Vaillancourt(Danielle Proulx) has only one applicant to replace the teacher, Bachir Lazhar(Mohamed Fellag), who has not taught in quite a while. "Monsieur Lazhar" is a thoughtful and nuanced look at broken lives being put back together again in multicultural Montreal where differences are more based on age than anything else, with Bachir's back story coming out in fits and bursts. As familiar as some of the story elements may be, it is worth noting how in less sensitive hands it could have gone terribly wrong and didn't, even if one of the children seems straight out of central casting.(I think it's a nice touch that Alice's mom is an airline pilot, a traditionally male occupation.) But as well as the movie opens quickly and efficiently in setting up the story, the ending it just as perfunctory.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 21, 2013
    A refugee from Algeria goes to Montreal and takes over for a teacher who killed herself. A gentle film with an edge, Monsieur Lazhar features strong performances by Mohamed Fellag and his young class. There are many scenes that seem aimless until they're considered in the scope of the larger story. As a whole, the film is part of the teacher-as-hero genre, and while its anti-intellectualism is confined to the premise that a man with no training can succeed, Monsieur Lazhar is a nurturing love educator, thrown into an emotionally charged classroom with grief-demons of his own. Its thesis -- that there are times when educators are called on to be caring parental figures -- is ludicrous in reality, but I found it effective because of Fellag's soulful performance. I think the conflict is never fully resolved, which is a common complaint I have with French-language films. I think Lazhar should have had to expose his damage; these kids' emotional lives are on display for Lazhar, and it seemed logical that Lazhar would have to do likewise. The fable bit was an attempt, but the writing on this fable didn't go far enough. Overall, this is a strong film in a problematic genre.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 31, 2013
    Nice enough movie, just really slow. Definitely the kind that critics like....
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 18, 2013
    Monsieur Lazhar is a brilliant and dramatic piece of filmmaking that takes us into the hearts and minds of people who are all in grief. Mohamed Fellag gives an outstanding performance and should be commended for his great work here. This film makes us review life at its hardest times, and I just fell right under this movies magic.
    Bradley W Super Reviewer

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