Friday, 18 May 2012

"Monsieur Lazhar" by Philippe Falardeau

"Monsieur Lazhar" was both written and directed by Philippe Falardeau in 2011; whereas the story is based on the stage play of Evelyne de la Chenelière.

This Canadian film has a running time of 94 minutes and its original language is French. That is the reason why I recommend you not to watch this film dubbed. It is mainly distributed by Music Box Films.

"Monsieur Lazhar" tells the story of Bachir Lazhar, an Algerian man who tries to recover normality in his life after a tragic happening with his family. To do so, this 55-year-old man emigrates to Montreal in order to work as a French teacher in a elementary school that also has to recover normality to fix some problems from the past that affected both to teachers and the students.

This is indeed what I liked most of the long film; its story, which is translated in a correct way to the script. The problems and the drama grow more and more as the running time of the film passes.
However, from the beginning I could not stop remembering "Entre les murs", which is also a French film directed by Laurent Cantet. Both films take place in an elementary school that include cultural problems.
For this reason I consider that "Monsieur Lazhar" is not as original as it could be, because it could have  more innovation in many aspects. In a certain moment I even thought that maybe Philippe Falardeau did not watch Laurent Cantent's film before direting his own film.

Other films concerning education are for instance "Not One Less" directed by Zhang Yimou or "Freedom Writers" by Richard LaGravenese. In my modest opinion "Not One Less" could be the best one maybe because it treats educational problems in what is a far and unknown culture for me; the oriental culture.

Regarding the direction and the staging of "Monsieur Lazhar" I believe that it is not remarkable; everything is too simple.

Philippe Falardeau (see above) studied Canadian potitics at the University of Ottawa and international relations at the University Laval in Quebec City. After that he started working in the audiovisual world when he was chosen as a contestant for the 1993 edition of the television series "La course destination monde". His filmography starts in 1992 with "La Course destination monde", a short documentaries for a TV series. However, his first featured film was "La Moitié gauche du frigo" (2000). Then he directed two more films before the one I am talking about in here.

The cast of "Monsieur Lazhar" includes Fellag as the main character, Sophie Nélisse as Alice, Émilien Néron as Simon, Danielle Proulx as Mrs Vaillancourt, Brigitte Poupart as Claire, Louis Champagne as Janitor, Jules Philip as Gaston and many other actorsand actresses.
This cast, as you may know if you have already watched the film, depends on many children, and everybody knows that it is not easy to work with them for a film, so I congratulate the director and the crew for the great job.

This film was nominated in the Academy Awards as Best Foreign Language Film from Canada, and also received many awards in other festivals. Al I can say is that I have watched many films that I did like more, but this one is not a bad one.


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