Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Thursday, 31 May 2012 23:00

'Monsieur Lazhar' teaches a compelling lesson

csmonitor.com csmonitor.com
Written by Diane Carson
Rate this item
(0 votes)

About this Media...

  • Director: Philippe Felardeau
  • Dates: Opens June 1, 2012

Some exceedingly rare films speak honestly and poignantly about the human condition. Fewer works still present children with accuracy and insight. One such extraordinary film is French Canadian director and screenwriter Philippe Felardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar.

Set in a middle school in Montreal, even the brief playground scene before the titles signals the exceedingly careful and unobtrusive observation of the students as they interact. Soon 11-year-old Simon discovers the tragic event that propels the story. A beloved teacher has hanged herself in the classroom. Bachir Lazhar becomes the class’s new instructor for the rest of the winter term. On parallel paths, the students and Bachir work toward healing.

 

Restrained emotionally and yet incredibly powerful, the film is brilliantly shot with the camera most often at a respectful distance, still but revealing the crucial interactions. We are outsiders, watching through a window, from the doorway or from the side or back of the room. In fact, director Felardeau spent hours and hours doing just that, sitting in the back of classrooms observing sixth grade students to get them right—how they move, how they talk, how French is taught.

 

At the Palm Springs Film Festival, Felardeau said he wanted to poke at the system but not at the teachers. Indeed, some rules are clearly counterproductive, and instructors with different approaches succeed in their own comfort zone. Felardeau also said that while issues of immigration and political asylum are crucial for Lazhar, he didn’t want the film to focus on that, preferring to keep the emphasis on the students. Metaphors abound, all of them effective but never forced; for example, a chrysalis fable is deeply moving.

 

Ironically, the Algerian actor Fellag, who plays Lazhar with a forceful humanity, had to leave Algeria. His life was in danger because of his stand up comedy act. After seeing clips of Fellag’s act on YouTube, Felardeau cast Fellag for his presence and look.

 

Monsieur Lazhar earned a coveted slot as one of the five films nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. In French with English subtitles. At a Landmark Theatre.
 

Related items (by tag)

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

Local Artist Spotlight


Jah Orah and KD Assassin

Wed November 19

Durango

Sun October 26
Durango is a two-man band with a progressive, heavy rock sound. The band's latest album, "Technologigical Advances," is a concept album that is meant to be heard as a whole unit. To download a track from…

KDHX Recommends

December
Friday
05

Roscoe Mitchell and Craig Taborn

An internationally known musician, composer and innovator, Roscoe Mitchell began his distinguished career in the spirited 1960s of Chicago. NYC pianist and ECM recording artist, Craig Taborn, has remained a ubiquitous presence on the...


December
Thursday
11

KDHX Discovery Series: History of Psychedelia

The KDHX Discovery Series presents the "History of Psychedelia," with DJ valis. KDHX DJ, valis will take you on a multimedia journey through the annals of psychedelic musical history. The evening will feature a...


December
Sunday
14

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Celia's Yuletide Express Secular Holid...

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Celia's Yuletide Express Secular Holid... 88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Celia's Yuletide Express Secular Holiday Sing-along Sunday, December 14 at Noon. Tickets available online.  Toys, clothes, food and other gifts will be collected at the door for...


Get Answers!

If you have questions or need to contact KDHX, visit our answers portal at answers.kdhx.org.

Online Users

4 users and 8524 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook