Monsieur Lazhar

2012

Monsieur Lazhar (2012)

TOMATOMETER

Critic 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.

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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 (117) | Top Critics (37)

Although it raises timeless questions about life and loss, and timely ones about mentorship and multiculturalism, "Monsieur Lazhar" would rather teach than preach.

Jun 1, 2012 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

A gentle film can still be searing in its effect on an audience, something that "Monsieur Lazhar" proves emphatically.

May 24, 2012 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

With a few folds, this story could have made a script for John Barrymore, like Topaze, or for Chaplin.

May 11, 2012 | Full Review…

You could almost describe 'Monsieur Lazhar' as a morality tale, but it's more thought-provoking than debate-provoking.

May 1, 2012 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

A sad, reflective study of the possibilities, and the impossibilities, inherent in the teacher-student relationship.

Apr 27, 2012 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

"Monsieur Lazhar" is good. Really good.

Apr 27, 2012 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Monsieur Lazhar

Even if the performances are not that strong, this is a delicate drama that could have been easily made into a maudlin melodrama in the wrong hands but instead goes for a realistic approach that renders it much more involving, touching and sincere than most films of the kind.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

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 Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

½

Nice enough movie, just really slow. Definitely the kind that critics like....

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

½

'Monsieur Lazhar'. Gently, but respectfully deals with loss through great all-round performances and poignant writing.

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