Directed by Philippe Falardeau
1st - 7th June 2012
What is most memorable about this life affirming film is the remarkable
acting by the class of children being taught in a francophone school in
Montreal by an asylum seeking Algerian restaurateur, Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed
Fellag - a noted actor from that country).
Unbeknown to the school authorities he has no formal teaching experience,
after being appointed to the post following the suicide of a depressed
female teacher, who was very popular with the kids.
Lazhar has his own troubled background, having experienced in Algeria
the slaying of his wife and family by terrorists, but nevertheless he
fits seamlessly into his new role, winning over the affections of his
class, particularly Alice (Sophie Nelisse), who becomes his favourite
The film touches on a number of pertinent themes. For example, the way
children deal and cope with a death of someone they feel affection for;
the education system and its often rigid interpretation of the way it
assesses the abilities and skills of children; and the manner in which
adults too often impose an institutionalised pattern to children's lives,
or overprotect them from imaginary dangers.
At the end of this richly rewarding film the final scene with Lazhar
and Alice may bring a tear to your eye - I don't often say that about