• At any time of the day, a good movie with popcorn or beer is a welcome pleasure.

    Monsieur Lazhar (2011): Movie Review

    Monsieur Lazhar is a 2011 Canadian French language drama film. It was directed by Philippe Falardeau and the story was developed by Evelyne de la Cheneliere. It starred Mohamed Fellag as Monsieur Lazhar, the lead role. It was Canada’s official entry to the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011 but lost to Iran’s “A Separation.” 

    Plot. The film is the story of Bashir Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant to Canada who became a schoolteacher for a short while. 

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    The movie opens with a scene in an elementary school in Montreal, Canada. A teacher has just hanged herself on her classroom. The incident sends a great trauma to the students who experience nightmares during the night. Later, Bashir Lazhar applies for the vacant job and is then quickly hired. Unknown to everybody, Lazhar is also recovering from a personal tragedy.

    In the beginning, Lazhar struggles with his work as cultural gap is quite evident and the school system’s constraints are different from those where he came from. Soon, the children learn to come to grips with their former teacher’s suicide and Monsieur Lazhar finally captures their heart and of his fellow teachers. Yet, Lazhar’s painful past remains hidden, as well as his status as refugee. His wife, a teacher and a writer, dies along with their son and daughter in an arson attack back in Algeria. The arson was caused by some people who were angered by Lazhar’s wife’s book about the country’s social and economic struggles.

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    In the end, Lazhar’s fugitive status becomes known as he has a heart-breaking encounter with one of his students. It is further revealed that he was not a schoolteacher in Algeria, but a restaurant owner. Consequently, his job is taken and after story-telling activity with his students, he leaves his class and the school.


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