Thursday, April 24, 2014

Monsieur Lazhar (2011)

IMDb plot summary: At a Montréal public grade school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom. While helping his students deal with their grief, his own recent loss is revealed.
Directed by Philippe Falardeau. Starring Mohamed Fellag, Sophie Nélisse, and Émilien Néron.

(Some spoilers ahead.)

While a lot of teacher movies follow the same formula, this one breaks out of the box a little bit -- and I appreciate that it tells up front that this is a movie about student-teacher relationships, not the educational aspect. Whether Monsieur Lazhar's students learn to conjugate verbs correctly is immediately seen as being far less important than whether he can help them through their rather traumatizing classroom experience with his stability. The characters are interesting and realistic, the acting is excellent, and the scene where Simon finally opens up about his difficulties with Martine is one of the most moving moments I've seen in a movie recently -- I cried a lot. I was somewhat dissatisfied with the ending, as it seemed a bit like a cheap emotional cop-out, but the rest of the movie is very solid and I would definitely recommend it.

4 stars.

Flickchart: #368 out of 2113, below Beautiful Boy and above The Great Gatsby (2013).

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