MONSIEUR LAZHAR (eOne, 2011) D: Philippe Falardeau, w/ Fellag, Sophie Nélisse. Rating: NNNN; DVD package: NN Rating: NNNN
In Monsieur Lazhar, Philippe Falardeau creates a delicate, touching mood of grief using only simple, unobtrusive camera work, naturalistic acting and the slenderest of stories.
In the wake of a Montreal teacher's in-classroom suicide, Algerian immigrant Bachir Lazhar is hired to teach her Grade 4 class. He tries to get the traumatized students and teachers to talk about it, but the administration wants him to leave matters to their expert psychologist.
Fellag, as Lazhar, and Sophie Nélisse and Emilien Néron, as Alice and Simon, two key students, carry the movie with quiet performances and emotion that seems to come spontaneously from the heart.
The extras package features the real Bachir Lazhar, author of the fable that closes the movie. The fable itself appears as on-screen text. Sadly for us English-only types, it's all in French without subtitles.
EXTRAS Making-of doc, fable. French audio. English subtitles.