In the lead up to the 7th Canadian Film Festival in Australia (August 2012), join us as we countdown the Top 100 Canadian Films of the past 30 years. We'll be posting one film a day leading up to Canada Day on July 1st 2012. Do you agree with our team favourites? Let us know your thoughts!
#14 – Monsieur Lazhar
When their teacher commits suicide, a primary school class in Montreal is left distressed, especially student Simon (Émilien Néron), the young boy who finds her body in the classroom.
The school is having a difficult time coming to grips with the tragedy and finding a replacement teacher for the now undesirable position, when Bashir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag) arrives with impeccable timing and enthusiasm.
Despite the initial cultural gap and the new and unfamiliar school system, Lazhar (who has recently immigrated to Montreal from Algeria) and his students and colleagues begin to slowly build friendships and understanding.
Philippe Falardeau has done a gorgeous job of conveying the emotion of how people deal personally with grief, and the ways they can help each other through difficult times, regardless of where they are from or how old they might be.
The children and teachers grief is dealt with delicately and movingly; and indeed, they are not the only ones suffering from a raw and terrible loss; Lazhar also has a painful past.
This heartfelt story is brought to life by outstanding work from Fellag (amazingly, a French-Algerian stand-up comic) and both Néron and Sophie Nélisse (as Simon’s fellow classmate, Alice).
Falardeau has inspired incredible performances by the children, and despite the film’s sombre premise, it’s a warm and affirming experience, very much deserving of its nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in 2012.
- Karina Libbey
“Only the most obstreperous delinquent could fail to be charmed by Monsieur Lazhar, in which an Algerian refugee plays ramshackle Mary Poppins to the kids at a Montreal primary.” Xan Brooks – The Guardian
To see the other films in the countdown so far, click here.