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Movie review: Foreign-language Oscar nominee Monsieur Lazhar

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Last weekend, we saw Monsieur Lazhar, Canada’s entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars. (And expected to lose to the Iranian film in contention.)

**** Monsieur Lazhar (February 2012) – Theatre
Mohmed Fellag, Sophie Nelisse, Emilien Neron. After a teacher’s suicide, an Algerian immigrant is quickly brought in as a substitute. Despite the culture gaps, he’s able to form a bond with the students. French, with subtitles.

She says: The synopsis makes this sound like one of those well-made but dreary Canadian movies, but it’s not. The traumas like the suicide and the tragedy that led Lazhar to leave his native Algeria happen mostly or entirely off-screen. On-screen is a lot of warmth and humour, as Lazhar fumbles his way through Canadian norms that are strange to him. There are moments of anger and sadness, but they’re never overwrought.

The movie tells a very simple story but deals with complex cultural, political, and emotional issues. The lead actor is great and the children are just astounding in showing how this unexpected teacher is just what these kids need.

He says: I feel like I missed the message of this one. Like I wasn’t evolved enough to understand it. And I kept waiting for more to happen.

Despite that, weirdly enough, I still liked the movie!

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