5 May 2012 4:03 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Briefly described, Monsieur Lazhar sounds like a highly contrived movie. An asylum-seeking Algerian restaurateur, whose wife and family have been killed by terrorists, passes himself off as a teacher to help the staff and pupils of a francophone school in Montreal come to terms with the suicide of a troubled female teacher. In fact it is a serious, unsentimental film of real insight into loss, grief, guilt, exile and the true meaning of education. Fellag, a prominent Algerian actor now working in exile in France, imbues the compassionate, indomitably cheerful Bachir Lazhar with a deep humanity. Equally the French-Canadian director elicits excellent performances from the children.

Lazhar is a man of tact, probity and a rich sense of humour. His understanding of his mixed class of 11-year-olds and their problems is palpable, but there is no immediate or magical transformation, and the mutual healing process is gradual. The end sends »

- Philip French

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Monsieur Lazhar (2011)
Mohamed Fellag


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