Monsieur Lahzar

April 22, 2012 No Comments

How does one “learn” to process tragedy?  Is there a lesson to be taught?  Phillipe Falardeau’s wonderful film “Monsieur Lahzar” is an attempt to immerse us in such an experience  lived through the lives of  a classroom of middle school students whose beloved teacher has hanged herself (in the classroom) and an equally traumatized  Algerian substitute teacher (Monsieur Lahzar) quickly  hired to replace the dead teacher.  Sound maudlin?  It’s not.  Cliched?  Nope.  Preachy and teachy? (like so many Hollywood school flicks).  Not guilty.   This film has a natural, matter of fact approach which offers no red ribbons to wrap up the sadness and grief.  The importance of telling one”s story (a message that sounds so familiar to us shrinks) is central, but honest…there are no “eureka!” moments and the healing process is only BEGUN by the telling, not resolved.  Mohammed Fellag’s performance as Lahzar is solidly quiet as he struggles within his own grief.  The children who portray the students remain well on the natural side of unbearable cuteness and are convincing in their interactions with the mysterious M. Lahzar.   This French Canadian film won the “Best Canadian Film” at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival.  It’s release (like many such films) is limited, but it will screen again at the Detroit Film Theatre next weekend (Friday, Saturday April 27-28 at 9:30 and Sunday April 29 at 4:30).   The film effective raises emotional as well as political and cultural questions without sacrificing the story……Monsieur Lahzar is a Must See Movie !!!!!!   Jolyn Wagner

Must See Movie of the Week

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