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83

Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics What's this?

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7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 33 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: Monsieur Lazhar tells the story of a Montreal middle school class shaken by the death of their well-liked teacher. Bachir Lazhar, a 55-year-old Algerian immigrant, offers the school his services as a substitute teacher and is quickly hired. As he helps the children heal, he also learns toMonsieur Lazhar tells the story of a Montreal middle school class shaken by the death of their well-liked teacher. Bachir Lazhar, a 55-year-old Algerian immigrant, offers the school his services as a substitute teacher and is quickly hired. As he helps the children heal, he also learns to accept his own painful past. (Music Box Films) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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]

See all 31 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. 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-drawnA 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. Expand
  2. Sep 10, 2012
    9
    This review contains spoilers. 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? Collapse
  3. 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 theA 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. Expand
  4. Apr 26, 2012
    7
    It's a good movie, but I had sky-high expectations for it, and the film just doesn't have enough to get close to them. It's either theIt's a good movie, but I had sky-high expectations for it, and the film just doesn't have enough to get close to them. It's either the editing or the writing because the lead actor is so strong. He deserved to be in a truly great film. The teacher's background needed to be more fully explored. His relationship with the other teacher is awkward. His residency status, again, could have been dealt with in a more interesting way. I enjoyed it - but wanted to love it and didn't. Expand
  5. Jun 1, 2012
    7
    What makes a good teacher? This man proved to be one because of his great understanding of children under his tutelage. Maybe that should beWhat makes a good teacher? This man proved to be one because of his great understanding of children under his tutelage. Maybe that should be the first requirement for teachers. Expand
  6. Aug 14, 2012
    7
    Not enough of a comment on loss or anything else but the film is touching and the end wraps everything nice and tight. The film just doesn''tNot enough of a comment on loss or anything else but the film is touching and the end wraps everything nice and tight. The film just doesn''t compare to great teacher dramas like to sir with love. Expand

See all 8 User Reviews

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