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FLICKS: Monsieur Lazhar

Posted on 25 April 2012 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


With the unseasonable chill in the air and the dawn of the summer blockbuster season, sometimes an odd film is released and the timing is perfect, such is the case for Monsieur Lazhar. Oscar-nominated for best foreign language film, Monsieur Lazhar relates to Florida students and teachers in their final month of the school year.

Set in Montreal, the film opens in a snowy schoolyard with children in recess. As per classroom routine, a little boy brings the snack to the classroom before recess ends. When he opens the classroom door, the little boy finds his teacher hanging from the ceiling in a successful suicide.

Enter Monsieur Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag), an Algerian refugee who offers his services as a substitute school teacher. While the principal expresses concern over teaching credentials and the children find the Algerian’s teaching methods disruptive, Lazhar instinctively begins the healing process for the community.

For classroom authenticity, Monsieur Lazhar is a truthful motion picture. The emotional pain is real. However, youth has a way of distracting it with humor. The poker-faced Lazhar accepts this childlike behavior, yet his pain in private life is just as comparable.

With Sun Fest coming next weekend, May 2-6, to the north of us, and the welcome return of the Ft. Lauderdale Air Show this weekend, a quiet film like Monsieur Lazhar should not be lost in roar of the engines and the high decibels of a Fender Amplifier. It opens tomorrow at the Living Room Theater on the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) campus.

If you go Friday night, the Living Room Theater will host a red carpet Meet & Mingle Networking Drive event for the Palm Beach County Filmmakers. This event will raise funds for Caught in the Middle, which was written by students for students.

And in the spirit of shameless self promotion, autographed copies of The Adventures of Cinema Dave in the Florida Motion Picture World will be sold for $25. Each sale will include an artifact from the “Cave of Cinema Dave”, something Monsieur Lazhar would be proud to own.

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