Dir: Philippe Falardeau|Canada|2011|94 mins
Picking up audience awards at festivals wherever it goes, Monsieur Lazhar is an almost impossibly charming French Canadian drama. When a teacher kills herself at a primary school, Algerian immigrant Bachir Lazhar steps forward to become the new stand-in. Seeming somewhat rusty in his teaching experience, we watch as he adjusts to life in the school and the various culture clashes that his young students and fellow teachers present. The film treads with great care as it navigates the children coming to terms with grief and the associated guilt and confusion it brings to their lives, but niftily avoids getting soppy.
A nominee for this year’s Foreign Language Oscar, the film is being pitched like The Chorus with a bit of Etre et Avoir - a warm and ultimately uplifting experience, full of life learning by pupils under the tutelage of inspirational but imperfect teacher.
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