THE PLOT THUS FAR
At a Montréal public grade school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom. While helping his students deal with their grief, his own recent loss is revealed.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
“Monsieur Lazhar” is an amazing movie that touches upon something that we don’t see enough in American cinema. The act of making children comfortable with death gets treated with kid gloves or ignored in the States. However, this film dares to say that kids can handle it, if allowed to process it through the right filters. Children are much more resilient than we realize, but they did need to have someone to guide them through it. That’s where the titular characters comes into play, but not in a Robin Williams in “Dead Poets Society” sort of way.
Lazhar’s personal acquaintance with grief is a sort of gospel that allows him a much-needed perspective towards the care of his students, one of whom, Simon, blames himself for the suicide and another, Alice, who seems intractably aware of the finality of death and the permanence of its impact. Heart-wrenchingly convincing performances by Emilien Neron and Sophie Nelisse, respectively, capture the incredibly perceptive incredulity that accompanies childhood trauma. That still- reeling sense of grief is equally apparent in Mohamed Fellag’s performance as Lazhar; the emotion of those big round eyes and recently- crumpled shoulders speaks volumes about the import of suffering, shadowed even in bright winter light.
The DVD comes with featurettes and auditions. The transfer is pretty strong, but sports minor digital noise. The Dolby 5.1 track has a full soundstage with no drop off. There’s total back channel support and it shines. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.
RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!