Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Apr 25, 2012
    88
    One of the qualities of Monsieur Lazhar is that it has no simple questions and simple answers. Its purpose is to present us with a situation, explore the people involved and show us a man who is dealing with his own deep hurts.
  2. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Apr 12, 2012
    90
    Like no other film about middle school life that I can recall Monsieur Lazhar conveys the intensity and the fragility of these classroom bonds and the mutual trust they require.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Apr 19, 2012
    88
    There's a quiet metaphor here: How do you teach children without touching them - their minds, their souls, their sensitivities?
  4. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Apr 13, 2012
    80
    Artfully put together by writer-director Falardeau, Monsieur Lazhar shows us life in the round, illustrating the way humor, compassion and tragedy can all be elements of experience. Its emotional honesty is heartening, a lesson we are never too old to learn.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Apr 12, 2012
    90
    What makes the film enthralling is the wisdom and grace with which it addresses the twin subjects of grief and healing, and the quiet beauty of Mohamed Fellag's performance in the title role.
  6. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Apr 12, 2012
    88
    Monsieur Lazhar doesn't send you home depressed. Instead, the film leaves you hopeful, and even exhilarated, that even the most painful wounds can sometimes heal.
  7. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Apr 26, 2012
    80
    Into this cauldron walks the title character, a gentle Algerian refugee with his own history of terrible loss, and as he tries to take over the dead woman's class, his rocky relationship with the kids pushes both him and them to new levels of empathy, understanding, and forgiveness.
  8. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Apr 13, 2012
    83
    There are wonderful sequences strewn throughout, like the moment when Lazhar, at a school dance, begins to slowly sway to the music as if in a trance.
  9. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    May 2, 2012
    78
    Still, for a film that is so much about the healing power of words expressed and feeling brought into the light of day, Monsieur is strangely reticent.
  10. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Apr 26, 2012
    75
    Whatever the film's limitations, it's certainly engaging to watch. As is Mohamed Fellag, as Lazhar.
  11. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Jun 7, 2012
    83
    Discreet, delicate, and cautious, Monsieur Lazhar takes you by surprise -- and that goes for both the movie and the man.
  12. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Apr 13, 2012
    88
    Like a dedicated teacher, this is a film that stays with you.
  13. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Apr 12, 2012
    80
    Falarde, in adapting a play, has a sweet, humanistic approach reminiscent of Bill Forsyth's '80s dramedies that lets "Lazhar's" protagonist and his class shine.
  14. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    May 3, 2012
    100
    Monsieur Lazhar resembles a clear, clean glass of water: transparent, utterly devoid of gratuitous flavorings or frou-frou, and all the more bracing and essential for it.
  15. 70
    Ineffably sad - yet there's almost no loitering. The film is crisp, evenly paced, its colors bright, as sharp as the winter cold.
  16. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jun 1, 2012
    88
    Until a devastatingly effective finale, Monsieur Lazhar is an exercise in delicacy, carried by Fallag's gentle performance and a fine cast of kid actors.
  17. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    May 24, 2012
    90
    The catharsis found here is far quieter, and much more effective, whether it be the pain expressed in a student's essay or the honesty found in a simple gesture, one that ends the film in beautifully moving fashion.
  18. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Apr 9, 2012
    50
    The movie is so discreet and respectful that, outside the classroom, within whose walls the glory of French literature and language triumph, it never quite comes to life. [16 April 2012, p. 86]
  19. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    May 2, 2012
    100
    Monsieur Lazhar becomes a deeply affecting film not for pathos but for the way sadness is conveyed so subtly. It's a small triumph of restrained compassion, coaxing throat lumps rather than jerking tears.
  20. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Apr 13, 2012
    75
    An understated story of coping with emotional blows that offers a compelling portrait of a decent man.
  21. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Apr 16, 2012
    90
    Fellag, a comedian and himself an exile from Algeria, makes Lazhar both a sensitive and an amusing figure. And the kids are just terrific, especially Emilien Neron as a boy who carries the guilt of the whole school on his shoulders.
  22. Reviewed by: Pete Hammond
    Apr 11, 2012
    80
    The kids, especially Néron and Nélisse are irresistible and supporting players are well-cast. Human dramas like Monsieur Lazhar are a rare breed these days and this exceptional example is one to be cherished.
  23. 100
    It's an exquisite, humanistic and subtly topical work of cinema art that manages to keep the intimate, revelatory sensibility of a one-man play intact while fleshing out the characters and creating a very realistic and richly detailed school community.
  24. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    Apr 10, 2012
    60
    Fellag does for the film what his Lazhar does for the pupils: He's soothing and entrancingly enigmatic enough to keep us fixed to our seats.
  25. Reviewed by: Jesse Cataldo
    Apr 8, 2012
    63
    There's great potential for the kind of issues that are taken on, but nothing is resolved, and the biggest questions, of guilt and shame, the gulf of understanding between the first world and the third, remain unengaged.
  26. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Apr 14, 2012
    80
    Though its story may sound formulaic on paper, please take my word for it: Monsieur Lazhar, written and directed by Philippe Falardeau, is a sharply intelligent, deeply sad, and not remotely sappy film about both teaching and collective grief.
  27. Reviewed by: Patrick Peters
    Apr 30, 2012
    80
    An Oscar nominee at this year's Academy Awards and for good reason, Falardeau's film is moving, smart and sensitive. Terrific stuff, in short.
  28. Reviewed by: Simon Kinnear
    May 7, 2012
    80
    The result is a shrewd look at classroom etiquette and an achingly sad study of grief-stricken solitude, built on ace performances by Fellag and the kids-especially 11-year-old scene stealer Sophie Nélisse.
  29. Reviewed by: John Semley
    Apr 12, 2012
    91
    More than a class full of convincing child actors and a genuinely affecting performance by Fellag, Falardeau offers a film as believably wrenching, and finally cathartic, as the grieving process itself.
  30. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Apr 10, 2012
    90
    Nélisse, with her tough, Courtney Love puss, and Néron's portrayal of a boy's well-defended torment are extraordinary, as is the film's realization of the small, temporary world that surrounds them. Hitting upon that kind of specificity - of a moment and its emotion - makes for strong memories and a really great movie.
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 31 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. Apr 17, 2012
    8
    A deeply touching movie about loss, guilt and uprooting, it manages to address complex issues with elegance and subtlety, while avoiding the trap of sentimentality. The young actors are uniformly good and believable, and Falardeau's skillful and delicate direction fits remarkably well the tone and subject of its film. A work of great intelligence from one of Quebec most important director. Full Review »
  2. Sep 10, 2012
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. So formidable is Sister Aloysius, the principal of the St. Nicholas Church School, whom the kids, her Catholic subordinates, fear, as evidenced by an early scene where the abbess' voice, like an electric charge, jolts the slumbering parishioners into a comically exaggerated alertness during Father Flynn's sermon, that we believe this woman, this nun, is all-powerful. It comes as a shock then, later, in Doubt, when the priest, summoned into the principal's office, seizes this illusory power, by appropriating the chair behind her desk as his own. It's a man's world, a Catholic life of subjugation for any God-fearing woman, Sister Aloysius included, and in this man's world, the devotional female serves tea, and listens to what the dominant sex has to say about the Christmas pageant, and all matters of pontification. Accused of molesting an altar boy, the school's only black student, Flynn goes on the offensive, feigning a show of transparency by daring the nun to call the pastor from his last parish. While Mr. McGuinn(the school custodian), a witness, has no obligation to conspire against the veracity of the cleric's moral excellency, Flynn's prior colleague does, which is what the accused father is counting on, as he writes a letter to the monsignor recommending Sister Aloysius' removal, while once again, assuming her seat without his ballpoint pen ever breaking stride. You can see the nun thinking, biding her time while the priest employs these diversionary tactics. Back when she gave Flynn the benefit of the doubt, in rote fashion(doubt already creeping), she recites the church's chain of command to Sister James, in the event should some ecclesiastical calamity strike her dominion, but now that the benefit is gone, this nun, emancipated, suddenly, from Catholicism's patriarchal hegemony, tells him that he spoke to her own kind, not his. The lie works. The scribbling stops, as the cowed priest is made impotent forthwith by the sister's insubordination, and resigns from St. Nicholas. His departure, tantamount to an admission of guilt. The plot against him is won, albeit it's a win tempered by apostolic machinations. Flynn's transgressions would amount to career suicide in most cases, but as is usually the case, the clergymen connive together and close ranks, obfuscating the truth under the aegis of a monolithic persuasion that encourages silence. For a schoolteacher, however, career suicide begets an actual suicide, in Monsieur Lazhar, which tells the story of a man without any educational credentials who finagles his way into teaching a group of traumatized pre-teens at The School of Rock(and a Hard Place), a school knee-deep in mourning, and perhaps, a school that is harboring a terrible secret. Bachir Lazhar, unbeknownst to his employer, Mme. Vailiancourt, is not a citizen, but a refugee with a temporary visa. In spite of his Muslim faith, he too, just like any westerner, becomes a victim of Islamic fundamentalism, when he learns that the family was killed in an apartment fire, a maliciously-set blaze intented to silence his outspoken wife, a journalist, who wrote a book criticizing the former French colony's reconciliation. At Bachir's asylum hearing, he explains to the court that "they" don't like it when women make their voices heard. Does "they" include the teacher, as well? He is a Muslim, after all, albeit not a terrorist. During a PTA meeting with the McCarthys, whose daughter brazenly corrects his outmoded grammar in class, Bachir describes Frederique as "rigid", and that "she loves to cite the rules". Possibly, the girl reminds him of his wife. A bad thing? Earlier, he's banished from class, when the school psychologist, a female, conducts her session with the children. What is he thinking? Left to wander the school hallways, Bachir acquaints himself with the janitor and a fellow teacher, Gilbert, who informs the new hire that he increased the male contingent by 50%, describing the Montreal public school as a "woman-ocracy". These women, friends of the deceased, act like a cabal, akin to apologists for a woman that may have acted inappropriately with a male student, Simon, who first discovers the dangling educator in his homeroom. Alice, the boy's best friend, blames Simon for their teacher's death, even though she hugged, and possibly tried to kiss the 11-year-old child. Although the gym teacher wears a whistle, he doesn't play the part of whistleblower like Sister Aloysius. In Doubt, Flynn wears his nails long, a trait meant to signify the wolf, and in Monsieur Lazhar, Alice tells her teacher that the wolf(from Jack London's White Fang) is her favorite animal, thereby referencing Flynn's counterpart. Something happened. "You don't know anything," the boy screams at the girl. Although the teacher didn't kiss Simon, she, perhaps, made the boy flinch, like William London, whenever Flynn came near him. Isn't her death a confession? Full Review »
  3. Apr 25, 2012
    10
    A remarkably engrossing film on a number of levels. Set in a primary school in Quebec (Francophone) its characters are remarkably well-drawn whether they be students, teachers, or administrators. The psychological, political, and moral questions that arise because of a particular event in the school are handled with force but also tact. The performances and cinematography are superb. Full Review »