Similar to another film which I watched recently, THE CLASS, MONSIEUR LAZHAR deals with the goings-on in a classroom and the students' relationship with their teacher. However, in contrast to the previous film, MONSIEUR LAZHAR focuses on something that was a little more intimate and relatable to someone who isn't French or French-Canadian. After a schoolteacher commits suicide in her classroom, the students are left in shock as well as in need of a new teacher. The substitute comes in the form of an Algerian immigrant, Bachir Lazhar. Although it is initially hard for the students to warm up to him, eventually they do and he helps them in their process of grieving in addition to having some of his own. One thing that struck me was just how unassuming this film actually was. I kind of expected it to be along the same lines as THE CLASS, but it ended up being a lot more emotionally involving, which I really liked. Grief is something that we all go through at some point in our lives, and seeing how it affects children was an interesting approach to take. Of course, the performances were all excellent, even from the child actors. The clear standout is Fellag, who played Monsieur Lazhar himself. There was a certain warmth and honesty in his performance, as well as subtle shades of melancholy. You got the sense that he was really affected by what happened in his past, and just as affected by what happened to his students. I'd also like to mention the score, which was quite minimal. Outside of some classical music, there really wasn't a whole lot. More importantly, the score never interferes with the film's many emotional moments, allowing them to be powerful on their own. The only issue I took with the film was that there could have been a little more screen time or information about Monsieur Lazhar, given that the film is named after him. I also was caught off-guard at how abruptly the film ended. Not that I needed any more closure, but I was so invested in the story that I kind of wish there had been a little more. Overall, I'd say this was about on par with THE CLASS, maybe edging it out slightly. It certainly isn't light viewing, but it is rewarding in its own way.