Critic Reviews



Based on 31 critic reviews provided by
It's an exquisite, humanistic and subtly topical work of cinema art that manages to keep the intimate, revelatory sensibility of a one-man play intact while fleshing out the characters and creating a very realistic and richly detailed school community.
Monsieur Lazhar resembles a clear, clean glass of water: transparent, utterly devoid of gratuitous flavorings or frou-frou, and all the more bracing and essential for it.
More than a class full of convincing child actors and a genuinely affecting performance by Fellag, Falardeau offers a film as believably wrenching, and finally cathartic, as the grieving process itself.
What makes the film enthralling is the wisdom and grace with which it addresses the twin subjects of grief and healing, and the quiet beauty of Mohamed Fellag's performance in the title role.
Fellag, a comedian and himself an exile from Algeria, makes Lazhar both a sensitive and an amusing figure. And the kids are just terrific, especially Emilien Neron as a boy who carries the guilt of the whole school on his shoulders.
Nélisse, with her tough, Courtney Love puss, and Néron's portrayal of a boy's well-defended torment are extraordinary, as is the film's realization of the small, temporary world that surrounds them. Hitting upon that kind of specificity - of a moment and its emotion - makes for strong memories and a really great movie.
There's a quiet metaphor here: How do you teach children without touching them - their minds, their souls, their sensitivities?
One of the qualities of Monsieur Lazhar is that it has no simple questions and simple answers. Its purpose is to present us with a situation, explore the people involved and show us a man who is dealing with his own deep hurts.
Monsieur Lazhar doesn't send you home depressed. Instead, the film leaves you hopeful, and even exhilarated, that even the most painful wounds can sometimes heal.
Like a dedicated teacher, this is a film that stays with you.
Falarde, in adapting a play, has a sweet, humanistic approach reminiscent of Bill Forsyth's '80s dramedies that lets "Lazhar's" protagonist and his class shine.
Boxoffice Magazine
The kids, especially Néron and Nélisse are irresistible and supporting players are well-cast. Human dramas like Monsieur Lazhar are a rare breed these days and this exceptional example is one to be cherished.
An understated story of coping with emotional blows that offers a compelling portrait of a decent man.
Quietly intelligent and respectable.
Ineffably sad - yet there's almost no loitering. The film is crisp, evenly paced, its colors bright, as sharp as the winter cold.
There's great potential for the kind of issues that are taken on, but nothing is resolved, and the biggest questions, of guilt and shame, the gulf of understanding between the first world and the third, remain unengaged.
Fellag does for the film what his Lazhar does for the pupils: He's soothing and entrancingly enigmatic enough to keep us fixed to our seats.
The New Yorker
The movie is so discreet and respectful that, outside the classroom, within whose walls the glory of French literature and language triumph, it never quite comes to life. [16 April 2012, p. 86]

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