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.
A married couple are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease.
A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
Bachir Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant, is hired to replace an elementary school teacher who died tragically. While the class goes through a long healing process, nobody in the school is aware of Bachir's painful former life; nor that he is at risk of being deported at any moment. Adapted from Evelyne de la Cheneliere's play, Bachir Lazhar depicts the encounter between two distant worlds and the power of self-expression. Using great sensitivity and humor, Philippe Falardeau follows a humble man who is ready to transcend his own loss in order to accompany children beyond the silence and taboo of death. Written by
This absorbing film, set in Montreal, ties together two tragedies and by such a linkage shows our capacity for human understanding and emotional empathy. While that may sound excessively depressing to some readers, I found a semblance of hope in this film as the characters, both young and old, try to move on with their lives and cope as best they can, and while the trauma may be a permanent part of their psyches, their seeming resilience conveys a kind of worldly maturity and acceptance.
The film opens with two school children discovering a favorite, but troubled, teacher who has hung herself in her classroom while her students are at recess. Psychologists are brought in to help the students cope with the emotional intensity of such a tragedy, and then later a Mr. Bachir Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant, presents himself to the principal as a suitable replacement for the suicide victim's class telling her how he's followed the school's trauma in the newspapers and he's available to help. Does he need the work (we find out his legal status is uncertain and he's in danger of being deported) or is some unconscious empathetic force driving him toward working with these students since he seems to understand their pain? The school authorities prefer to move on from the tragic event while Mr. Lazhar can sense after a number of months that some of his students are dwelling on their former teacher's act and her reasons for doing so; he encourages them to talk in class about their feelings and for this he is rebuked. We eventually discover the horrific tragedy surrounding his own family and why he's fled to Canada, and from this we can understand and appreciate his empathy for his students and his understanding of their emotional plight ("why did she do it in her own classroom during school?"). The film has many touching moments as this strange Algerian immigrant explains the "unexplainable" to his students and they in turn seem to provide him with an emotional outlet, and a purpose, to counter his own suffering.
Some reviewers have questioned the film's seeming lack of total emotional resolution, but life can be open-ended. Will these children completely heal (as much as they can) and will Mr. Lazhar's half-year encounter with these kindred souls give him the emotional basis for sustaining a meaningful life in a foreign environment? We don't really know, but some of the signs that the film depicts seem to be favorable. A very worthy film from Canada!
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