I’ve always been a fan of foreign films. There are certain feelings and emotions that are better conveyed in languages such as French rather than English. The French Canadian film “Monsieur Lazhar” follows the heartfelt story of Bashir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag), an Algerian political refugee who gets a job as a teacher at a Montreal elementary school.
The French language enhances the film significantly. There’s more intonation and emotion when the characters speak. It’s a poetic and beautiful language: it flows; its pronunciations are pleasing to the ear; not choppy like English.
The children’s previous instructor hanged herself in the classroom before school started one day. The plot revolves around the replacement teacher, Lazhar and the children coming to peace with their traumatic past while getting to know each other. Lazhar fled his native Algeria, where he was targeted in an arson attack, in which his wife and kids perished. As he goes through the process of applying for refugee status, the children open up about the death of their teacher.
One of the children in particular, Simon, blames himself for her death. He treated her callously and the day she was found dead, it was his job to bring milk to the classroom before school began. He jumps to the conclusion that his teacher wanted him in particular to discover her corpse.
“Monsieur Lazhar” is a touching film about loss and finding peace with a traumatic past. You can really connect with the characters and feel their pain. You empathize with the protagonist after you learn the circumstances in which he had to flee his country and the children when you see the impact their teacher’s death had on them. You see the way the instructor and students connect through mutual pain and that’s relatable to a lot of people.