Coming to terms with loss,
This review is from: Monsieur Lazhar [DVD] (DVD)
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This French-Canadian film tells the story of a class of 11-12 year olds whose school teacher commits suicide, and of the course of their relationship with their replacement teacher (Monsieur Lazhar), an Algerian refugee. Both the class and Lazhar are coming to terms with what they have lost and attempting to forge new lives amid their respective traumas, battling a way to a space where they can be comfortable between truth, lies and suspicions. The film is notable not only for the subtlety with which it tells these two contrasting yet complementary stories, but for the superb naturalistic acting, especially by the children in Lazhar's class. There is an extraordinary scene towards the end where the child who discovered the teacher after she committed suicide breaks into angry tears as he tries to free himself of the burden that he himself is to blame for her death - it feels painfully raw, and is almost impossible to believe that such a performance could be coaxed out of a child actor. The film is worth watching for this scene alone.
Lazhar's backstory, not to give anything away, acts as a subplot to the class' story. But both stories are tied together towards the end of the film as Lazhar and the class show that, while loss of any kind is never an easy process, they have discovered ways of coping with the new realities that face them.
A memorable film that will appeal to those who liked another marvellous French film about a teacher and his class, Etre Et Avoir [DVD] .