Saturday, August 11, 2012

Monsieur Lazhar

A primary school teacher hangs herself in despair. An unemployed man turns up uninvited as a replacement teacher. A principal under pressure turns a blind eye to the lack of paperwork. An asylum seeker tries to convince skeptical Canadian authorities of his fear of persecution. A kid acts out as a form of absolution. Desperate Remedies would work as a title for this film (except that someone else got there first).

Monsieur Lazhar opens with a primary school trying to cope with the sudden death of a teacher and Bachir Lazhar's appearance at the Principal's door with an offer she can't refuse. Where else could she get a relieving / replacement teacher at such short notice? From then on the film slowly peels back the layers of mystery that make up Bachir Lazhar. In parallel Monsieur Lazhar gently pokes fun at current trends in parenting and teaching, and also at some of the conclusions about children that adults jump to.

Overall Monsieur Lazhar is a feel good movie about an uptight middle age Algerian with his heart in the right place and starring the cutest kids in Quebec, who educate their unusual teacher as much as he educates them.
Simon and Alice
Ian's rating 4/5

This film was preceded by a much darker and harder to watch short film called Lambs; about Kiwi kids in a Once were Warriors situation. It is set in Cannons Creek, was awarded the $5000 Madman entertainment jury prize.

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