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Monsieur Lazhar

Monsieur Lazhar

Director: Philippe Falardeau,

Cast: Mohamed Fellag, Sophie Nelisse, Emilien Neron


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A teacher and his students learn from one another in the wake of a tragedy in this drama from director Philippe Falardeau. Simon (Emilien Neron) and Alice (Sophie Nelisse) are a pair of grade-school students who make a shocking discovery one day when they witness their


A teacher and his students learn from one another in the wake of a tragedy in this drama from director Philippe Falardeau. Simon (Emilien Neron) and Alice (Sophie Nelisse) are a pair of grade-school students who make a shocking discovery one day when they witness their teacher taking her own life in their classroom. The school's principal (Danielle Proulx) wants things back to normal as soon as possible, and when substitute teacher Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag) drops off his resume after learning of the tragedy, he's hired almost on the spot. The children don't immediately take to Lazhar, since most of them have never had a male teacher before, and Lazhar has his own adjustments to deal with -- he's an Algerian immigrant new to Montreal, he's still learning the finer points of Quebecois French, and his teaching style differs from that of his new colleagues. But as Lazhar tries to guide Simon, Alice, and their classmates through the shock of what has happened, he also finds the experience helps him heal after struggling with a loss of his own. Monsieur Lazhar (aka Bachir Lazhar) won the Audience Award at the 2011 Locarno Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
The best teachers don't simply share what's in a textbook, they offer up their own experiences to their students and learn something from the kids in their class as they go over the material, discovering what each of them do and don't know. Philippe Falardeau's film Monsieur Lazhar is a story about an unusual teacher who guides his students through a difficult time, and it's a wise and perceptive study not only of what one man learns during a challenging life journey, but of the fascinating, sometimes sticky relationship between a teacher and a room full of young people. Monsieur Lazhar opens on a quietly shocking note, as a sixth-grade student returns to his classroom after recess to make a terrible discovery -- his teacher has committed suicide, with her lifeless body hanging from the heating ducts. The school's principal, Mme Vaillancourt (Danielle Proulx), tries as best she can to cope with the situation, comforting children and their parents as they struggle with the emotional fallout of the teacher's death, but there is one practical matter to deal with -- the students need a new teacher, and she can't find one willing to take the job on such short notice, especially given the traumatic circumstances. Enter Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag), who stops by the school to drop off his résumé to Vaillancourt and offer his services to the school. Lazhar says he had many years of experience as an educator in Algeria before relocating to Montreal and becoming a permanent resident, but what Vaillancourt doesn't know (and the audience learns rather slowly) is that this story isn't true. Lazhar used to run a restaurant in Algeria, and fled to Canada as a refugee after a controversial book written by his wife led to death threats against his family, threats that were made real and cost the lives of his wife and children. As Lazhar tries to build a new life, he wants to lose himself in teaching and help guide the kids in his class, but many are still dealing with their grief, particularly Alice (Sophie Nelisse), a clever girl who idolized her former teacher, and Simon (Emilien Neron), who has educational and behavioral problems and a slightly checkered history with the school's staff. Amidst all this, Lazhar is caught in a legal battle regarding his status as a refugee and his right to stay in Montreal, while his colleagues seem determined to pair him up with a pretty, single teacher named Claire (Brigitte Poupart), although he's still not over the death of his wife. For the most part, Monsieur Lazhar is a simple story told in a straightforward manner, with little fuss and an admirable degree of realism, and this points to the movie's strengths -- what could easily have been an overly sweet and sentimental story that aims for all the usual emotional targets gets a more subtle and low-key delivery, and that makes all the difference. In this movie, Lazhar is no educational miracle worker, and neither are the other men and women on the faculty. Instead, they're just people who work hard and hope they can make a difference given an increasingly difficult set of circumstances. And outside of school, Lazhar is a guy trying to put his life back in order despite a situation that would cripple many people emotionally, and if he struggles, he does so with a quiet dignity that only breaks down when he knows no one will see. Fellag gives a strong, thoroughly credible performance as Lazhar, expressing the character's myriad emotions with clear but gently modulated shades, and his interaction with his students (who, unlike those in the average Hollywood movie about kids, look and act like real children) bears the ring of truth, sometimes funny and sometimes contentious. Danielle Proulx is suitably compassionate and exasperated as the school's principal, Brigitte Poupart is bright and charming as Claire (who clearly doesn't mind being matched up with Lazhar despite his hesitance), and Jules Philip is witty as the school's cynical gym teacher. Lastly, Sophie Nelisse and Emilien Neron work wonders in their roles as two of Lazhar's students, honestly conveying a rich variety of emotions while still seeming natural and unaffected. Monsieur Lazhar is special not so much for what it says, but for the way it says it, and this is a picture that's genuinely charming while delivering a potent emotional impact; Philippe Falardeau's direction is a model of the notion that less is more, and this film is a treat well worth savoring.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Music Box Films
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Special Features

From stage to screen; Big talk interview with Philippe Falardeau; Alice and Simon audition tapes; Bachir''s story ; Alice''s report

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Mohamed Fellag Bachir Lazhar
Sophie Nelisse Alice
Emilien Neron Simon
Danielle Proulx Mrs. Vaillancourt
Brigitte Poupart Claire
Louis Champagne Janitor
Jules Philip Gaston
Francine Ruel Mrs. Dumas
Sophie Sanscartier Audree
Seddik Benslimane Abdelmalek
Marie-Eve Beauregard Marie-Frédérique
Louis-David Leblanc Boris
Vincent Millard Victor
Andre Robitaille Commissioner
Daniel Gadouas Me Gilbert Danis
Stephane Demers Marie-Frédérique's Father
Evelyne De La Cheneliere Alice's Mother
Marie Charlebois Prosecutor
Nico Lagarde Psychologist

Technical Credits
Philippe Falardeau Director,Screenwriter
Mathieu Beaudin Sound/Sound Designer
Emmanuelle Beaugrand-Champagne Casting
Sylvain Bellemare Sound/Sound Designer
Pierre Bertrand Sound/Sound Designer
Nathalie Boutrie Casting
Constance Demontoy Casting
Luc Dery Producer
Carole Doucet Asst. Director
Francesca Chamberland Costumes/Costume Designer
Emmanuel Frechette Production Designer
Stéphane Lafleur Editor
Martin Leon Score Composer
Kim McCraw Producer
Ronald Plante Cinematographer
Bernard Gariepy Strobl Sound/Sound Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Monsieur Lazhar
1. Chapter 1 [19:59]
2. Chapter 2 [19:59]
3. Chapter 3 [19:58]
4. Chapter 4 [19:59]
5. Chapter 5 [15:18]


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