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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 October 2012
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This film has gathered many favourable reviews, dealing as it does with issues of loss, grief, attachment and healing. As many reviewers on this page have already outlined the plot, I'll concentrate more on performance and direction, and how successful this is overall.

The acting throughout is very impressive, especially from those playing the schoolchildren, with some very moving and luminous performances, reflecting anger, frustration, despair, the weight of guilt, and the unquenchable need for love and physical contact. This quietly understated film, while not quite in the class of the 'documentary' Etre et Avoir, allows us to observe the journey which many of the characters, both adult & child, make through grief, abandonment, isolation, guilt to redemption, growth and healing, where children are also able to help adults (Mr Lazhar) heal and recover, just as he also helps them confront their own traumas, despite the rigidity of the education system, which requires that they and other adults need to 'move on', to the detriment of all.

Monsieur Lazhar looks at the merits and weaknesses of modern v 'traditional' teaching/learning approaches, and the gaping hole which forbids physical contact between teacher & child. In our eagerness to protect against potential abuse, we have also forsaken one of the most natural of human instincts, the need for consolation, and this is something this film makes explicit. A number of scenes between children and adults, and even between adults (Lazhar visiting a female colleague) underlines the 'learned awkwardness' which can bedevil communication and understanding. Sometimes the structure of the educational system is also seen to prove counterproductive to young people trying to understand their way through life.

This gentle film boasts no melodramatic climaxes, preferring to underplay the level of emotional undercurrents, though always able to hint at the weight of the iceberg which lies beneath even everyday and apparently mundane incidents. Perhaps dramatically the film suffers from the new teacher being given a surprisingly gentle reception by his traumatised class, and there is a sense that the direction avoids the uncomfortable and the challenging elements one might expect in the circumstances. However, overall this is a strong, yet understated piece of cinema, with an appropriately sensitive soundtrack, and some thoroughly engaging performances.

As my review copy was simply a disc, I'm unable to comment on the value/quality of the accompanying notes etc. This is a journey to watch for the strength of the engaging performances, and the mirror of society it reflects.
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on 27 August 2017
I liked the acting and the storyline but would have liked the characters to be more developed during the film.
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on 17 April 2017
Good film but poor sound quality. Put maximum sound but still difficult to understand. I am French and the Canadian accent can be difficult to understand. Use it for French club at school, therefore, the sound is very important.
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on 4 May 2017
A very moving film.
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on 28 March 2017
no subtitles.
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VINE VOICEon 24 October 2012
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Canadian subtitled film, "Monsieur Lazhar," begins with the suicide of 6th grade teacher Martine Lachance. The titular character is hired to teach the class of eleven and twelve year olds. The drama focuses on how the children deal with the death of their beloved teacher but it soon becomes clear that Mr Lazhar also has troubles of his own.

"Monsieur Lazhar," offers a sensitive exploration of grief, particularly of the two children who saw Martine's body. It also explores the education system and differences in teaching methods between Quebec and Algeria where Lazhar originates.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 28 September 2012
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The basis of this film is quite simple; a Montreal school teacher hangs herself in the classroom where she teaches her young charges. One of the boys Simon, discovers the body and raises the alarm. With the ensuing scandal it becomes nigh on impossible to get a replacement teacher and the kids are clearly traumatised by the whole experience.

Enter Monsieur Lazhar (Mohammed Fellag) he is from Algeria where he claims he was a teacher and he would like to step in and help. So faced with a decision of no teacher or a very keen one indeed, he gets the gig. The thing is that he is a man with a past and a tragic one too. Algeria has suffered years of terror and he and his family are one of its victims. He is also an asylum seeker and could face deportation at any time as his case is pending. This side of his life he keeps from everybody. He throws himself into connecting with the children and in doing so manages to unravel the truth of the past and the hostilities that the children have been harbouring amongst themselves.

This was an utterly absorbing film with performances from all involved that were brilliant. Emilien Neron who plays Simon is excellent but the real star is Mohammed Fellag who brings a warmth and humanity that is as touching as it is revealing about the human condition and possibly cultural attitudes.

This was taken from the play by Evelyne de la Cheneliere but has transferred to the screen with no hitches, there is a bit of love interest, no bedroom naughtiness and no real action. Yet this just shines through as a testament to great film making. In French with sub titles and a whole bucket of heart felt emotion - excellent.
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Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Monsieur Lazhar is a French-Canadian film with English subtitiles and at the beginning an eleven year old boy looks through a classroom door only to see that his teacher has hanged herself. The whole community is shocked, the news even gets into the local paper and at first no-one is interested in the vacant position left by the tragedy, that is until Bachir Lazhar a 55 year old immigrant from Algeria applies for the teaching post. It doesn't take long for Monsieur Lazhar to talk himself into the job as substitute teacher.

Although his new pupils do not immediately take to him, Monsieur Lazhar's old fashioned charm and politeness to all certainly fascinates them and after a time they warm to him greatly. While his pupils goes through a painful healing process trying to come to terms with the tragedy no-one in the school is aware of Monsieur Lazhar's own tragic life, nor are they aware that he could be deported at any time.

Full of great warmth, sensitivity and humour, you cannot help but to be steered attentively through the storyline to its climax. A little slow moving in places but 'Monsieur Lazhar' is full of heart, a film that will provoke many emotions and at times left me in tears and at other times actually made me laugh.

Monsieur Lazhar is a film you definitely want to watch and one that you definitely won't forget.
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VINE VOICEon 27 October 2012
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Monsieur Lazhar is a lovely film - with some truly heart-warming performances - and a variety of themes from suicide and grief to parenting and immigration.

It tells the story of a new teacher who takes over a class after their previous teacher commits suicide. Monsieur Lazhar may not quite be what he seems, however, and the primary focus of the film is his struggle as his unconventional methods clash with the school's curriculum and rules.

Like any film about primary aged children, a large part of the success rests of the child actors involved. Here - and perhaps this is helped by the fact that the film is in french, although I can't be sure of that - the children give excellent performances. Particularly the actors playing Alice and Simon. They are honest, believable, and they carry a large part of the emotional journey of the film.

If I had to raise a criticism of the film, it is that it perhaps doesn't delve deep enough into any one of the topics, relationships or plot lines deeply enough. As such, it left me slightly wondering if the film could have done with another half hour in which to really examine one of the issues or characters. Having said that, I would always err on the side of 'leave them wanting more'.

Overall, this is a thoroughly enjoyable film: it is relaxing, touching and enjoyable. For me, it didn't break new ground - or touch me in the way that, for instance, Dead Poet Society did - but that's not the be all and end all, and I would challenge anyone to watch this and not enjoy it.
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on 5 October 2012
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a simple but charming film about a new teacher's relationships with his class and colleagues, after he steps into the shoes of a teacher who committed suicide. It has a degree of intrigue (why did the last teacher kill herself? how will his asylum case turn out?), but the primary interest comes from the evolving human relationships, especially between the teacher and two of the children. It is beautifully shot, with a delightfully minimalist soundtrack. The acting is first rate throughout, including the children. The film explores how people come to terms with the death of loved ones, but it's not overly deep or philosophical. It is more of a celebration of the value of human friendship. The plot doesn't reach a full resolution; the sense is of being a spectator of just one period of the ongoing lives of the various characters. I found it relaxing and enjoyable. The only minor niggles were the occasional difficulty reading the white subtitles during light-coloured scenes, and a moment when M. Lazhar lies about having struck a pupil, which seemed inconsistent with his otherwise honest nature.
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