The movie's tonic lack of sentimentality binds the various griefs together into something moving.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
- New York Times
"Monsieur Lazhar" sustains an exquisite balance between grown-up and child's-eye views of education, teacher-student relations and peer-group interactions.
Stephen Holden - New York Times
Only the most obstreperous delinquent could fail to be charmed by Monsieur Lazhar, in which an Algerian refugee plays ramshackle Mary Poppins to the kids at a Montreal primary.
Xan Brooks - Guardian [UK]
"Monsieur Lazhar" is good. Really good.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
What could be didactic is rendered life-size and indelible, even with the cards that Falardeau has carefully stacked.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
Nelisse, with her tough, Courtney Love puss, and Neron's portrayal of a boy's well-defended torment are extraordinary, as is the film's realization of the small, temporary world that surrounds them.
Michelle Orange - Village Voice
Falarde, in adapting a play, has a sweet, humanistic approach reminiscent of Bill Forsyth's '80s dramedies that lets "Lazhar's" protagonist and his class shine.
Joe Neumaier - New York Daily News
What makes the film enthralling is the wisdom and grace with which it addresses the twin subjects of grief and healing, and the quiet beauty of Mohamed Fellag's performance in the title role.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
Ineffably sad-yet there's almost no loitering. The film is crisp, evenly paced, its colors bright, as sharp as the winter cold.
David Edelstein - New York Magazine
Monsieur Lazhar is so discreet that it never quite comes to life.
David Denby - New Yorker
Its purpose is to present us with a situation, explore the people involved and show us a man who is dealing with his own deep hurts.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
It's all a bit neat. But whatever the film's limitations, it's certainly engaging to watch.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
A standard liberal tale about an inspirational teacher gradually deepens into a quiet study of how grief works its way through a community.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
A sad, reflective study of the possibilities, and the impossibilities, inherent in the teacher-student relationship.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
The film is rich in naturalistic, tossed-off details.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
How do we get past tragedy? Together.
Tom Long - Detroit News
A gentle film can still be searing in its effect on an audience, something that "Monsieur Lazhar" proves emphatically.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
Monsieur Lazhar builds hope in the face of tragedy and sheds new light on the question of what is truth and how we find it.
Rex Reed - New York Observer
Quietly intelligent and respectable, much like its protag.
Boyd van Hoeij - Variety
Like a dedicated teacher, this is a film that stays with you.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
It's a tapestry of fraught relationships, weaving issues of parental authority, social taboos and national boundaries. Empathy comes through understanding, but it's not easily achieved. It never is.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
[An] intelligent but generally cheery comedy.
Eric Kohn - indieWIRE
An exquisite, humanistic and subtly topical work of cinema art that manages to keep the intimate, revelatory sensibility of a one-man play intact while fleshing out the characters and creating a very realistic and richly detailed school community.
Jennie Punter - Globe and Mail
Fellag, an Algerian comedian and humor writer, anchors the film as the ineffable Bachir, a man who's so private that even the third-act revelation of his back story doesn't fully explain his motivations to us (nor would we want it to).
Dana Stevens - Slate
Canada's foreign-language submission is a searing classroom drama about grief that should be an Oscar front-runner.
Stephen Farber - Hollywood Reporter
This film deals almost casually with a range of issues and themes, handling with a light and even affectionate touch weighty subjects like grief, guilt, community and love.
Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times
While it may not stand out from similar movies, Monsieur Lazhar is a sweet film with a simple story and remains engaging thanks in large part to Mohamed Fellag's charming performance.
Jeff Beck - We Got This Covered
Philippe Falardeau's direction is a model of the notion that less is more, and this film is a treat well worth savoring.
Mark Deming - TV Guide's Movie Guide
This is cinema at its most impactful.
Liam Maguren - Flicks.co.nz
By the time you realise how invested you are in this tale it is too late: Monsieur Lazhar has you. I consider myself a cinematic Chuck Norris, but this film had me blubbering like a baby.
Adam Ross - The Aristocrat
While "Monsieur Lazhar" is a decent film, I wish it would have done more to stand out from other similar films.
Jeff Beck - Examiner.com
The film understands the complex bond between teachers and students, and how the classroom is a sacred space they share for a short time before moving on.
Rob Thomas - Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Thankfully, the impressive cast of child actors actually behave like children, not like miniature adults.
Jim Schembri - 3AW
Very few films offer a moral grandeur, as well as a political foundation; very few films have such poised and brilliant performances from unknown actors.
Paul Byrnes - Sydney Morning Herald
Monsieur Lazhar is a film that focuses on humanity when at its most vulnerable, with the film itself a warm embrace that will evoke tears of joy.
Matthew Pejkovic - Matt's Movie Reviews
Phillipe Falardeau, who adapted the play into a screenplay, can't entirely paper over a few niggling loose ends, but overall this disturbing film is very effective indeed.
David Stratton - At the Movies (Australia)
Monsieur Lazhar never pretends to be anything but a grown-up fable, and it's a captivating one.
Jim Poe - FILMINK (Australia)
Lazhar is something of a puzzle, and much of the pleasure of Philippe Falardeau's film lies in the gradual unfolding of his reserved yet impulsive personality.
Jake Wilson - The Age (Australia)
Monsieur Lazhar is a film to cherish.
Alice Tynan - Limelight
Beautifully performed by all the actors, not least the youngsters
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
The fact that both teacher and students are in need of protection adds greatly to the poignancy and Falardeau delivers an emotionally rich film filled with nuance, grace and subtlety
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile
Under Falardeau's inconspicuous lens, life plays out with rare authenticity; not just its tragedies, but its triumphs, its mishaps and its incidental interludes
Tom Clift - Moviedex
In Monsieur Lazhar, education can prevail over its literal restrictions. Teachers may make mistakes, but the good ones emphasize independence and intelligence. And interpretation. They serve inquisitiveness, not inquisition.
Tony Macklin - tonymacklin.net
Falardeau dances delicately along the razor's edge of the familiar and the conventional. But he does so with tact and taste and just the right blend of tension and relief.
Shawn Levy - Oregonian
Falardeau's adaptation of fellow Quebecois Evelyne de la Cheneliere's play honours the power of the written word (a motif reinforced throughout the film), and expands on its stage origins via remarkably-assured cinematic touches.
Simon Foster - sbs.com.au
Although it raises timeless questions about life and loss, and timely ones about mentorship and multiculturalism, "Monsieur Lazhar" would rather teach than preach.
Joe Williams - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
This moving film features exquisite performances by Fellag and a stunning ensemble of child actors. The movie also gets high marks in cinematography, sound, original musical score and editing.
Keith Cohen - Entertainment Spectrum
... the perfect school drama for people who hate the Hollywood version of the genre, but are open to simple and moving stories about people doing the best they can in a world that doesn't always seem to encourage that approach.
Sarah Boslaugh - PopMatters
A humanistic story about how tragedy has different effects on people.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
a naturalistic ensemble drama about the possibilities - and the limitations - of the teacher-pupil relationship ... probably too low-key for mainstream multiplex tastes, Monsieur Lazhar is a temperate, generous and deeply affecting experience.
Philip Martin - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
As the teacher, Fellag suggests Robert Downey Jr. channeling a quietly reflective Robert De Niro.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
This is a good movie about teaching, but more importantly, a good movie about the loss of a loved one and how to cope with death.
Austin Kennedy - Sin Magazine
There's a lighthearted inspiration infused throughout Monsieur Lazhar that makes it also touching, but never maudlin.
Ian Buckwalter - The Washingtonian
With a few folds, this story could have made a script for John Barrymore, like Topaze, or for Chaplin.
Stanley Kauffmann - New Republic
Stanley Kauffmann - The New Republic
tender and sincere, frequently striking a fine balance between the dictates of the "inspirational teacher" genre and a more mundane kind of realism that tamps down easy sentimentality and strives for something more organic and genuine
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
Everything about the film sets exactly the right tone, from the unforced and winning performances by the main children to the wintry cinematography to Fellag's quietly rueful performance.
Lawrence Toppman - Charlotte Observer
The rare sort of movie that chooses not to focus on the dramatic, pivotal moments that happen in life, but what comes after.
Christopher Lloyd - Sarasota Herald-Tribune
One of the most touching films of the year. A brilliant tragedy that transcends boundaries of age, country, race, religion and gender.
Ron Wilkinson - Monsters and Critics
Takes the fairly dreadful 'teacher who makes a difference' sub-genre and puts an interesting new spin on it that gives it the allure of something fresh.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Impressively directed and superbly written, this is an emotionally engaging, deservedly Oscar-nominated drama with a terrific central performance from Mohamed Said Fellag.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Some teachers will learn from it. All teachers will find it a reaffirmation of their vocation.
Philip French - Observer [UK]
Monsieur Lazhar remains tight-lipped about his private life, but the audience comes to learn about the great human loss and danger of deportation that clouds his life.
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
Fans of Nicolas Philibert's immaculate chronicle of the learning curve, Etre et Avoir, are sure to appreciate the warm lessons of this award-winning Canadian film.
Tara Brady - Irish Times
Despite its independent credentials, it feels like a softened remake of a rawer, more compelling story.
Robbie Collin - Daily Telegraph
Monsieur Lazhar becomes a deeply affecting film not for pathos but for the way sadness is conveyed so subtly. It's a small triumph of restrained compassion, coaxing throat lumps rather than jerking tears.
Steve Persall - Tampa Bay Times
Canadian filmmaker Philippe Falardeau's warm, tidy character study [is] gratifying.
Kelly Vance - East Bay Express
Works awfully well, managing to be sweet and distinctly easy without feeling the need to talk down to the viewer at the same time.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
A timely examination of violence in our society through the eyes of those who can't control it.
Josh Winning - Little White Lies
The film invites comparison with Laurent Cantet's 2008 film The Class, which makes it look tame by comparison, but also Dead Poets Society, which makes it look tough.
Leo Robson - Financial Times
Eloquent drama about contemporary issues like immigration, education, integration and the propriety of physical contact with students.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
Broaching tough material in a tactful, sensitive manner, Monsieur Lazhar is a potent, stirring gem of Canadian cinema.
Shaun Munro - What Culture
The result is a shrewd look at classroom etiquette and an achingly sad study of grief-stricken solitude, built on ace performances by Fellag and the kids...
Simon Kinnear - Total Film
You could almost describe 'Monsieur Lazhar' as a morality tale, but it's more thought-provoking than debate-provoking.
Cath Clarke - Time Out
An Oscar nominee at this year's Academy Awards and for good reason, Falardeau's film is moving, smart and sensitive. Terrific stuff, in short.
Patrick Peters - Empire Magazine
Notions of class, cultural, ideological and emotional violence - or perhaps a little of each - take on vastly difference meanings in this sensitively woven French Canadian journey through Algerian exile, student angst and outsider alienation
Prairie Miller - NewsBlaze
It's a subtle meditation on catharsis, and a gentle indictment of over-regulated education...
Siobhan Synnot - Scotsman
Remarkably human, touching, brilliant film that never succumbs to melodrama, finding something truthful in the complex relationship between adults and children forced to grow up too soon.
Brian Tallerico - HollywoodChicago.com
A quietly affecting character study...remarkable for its subtlety, charm, poignancy, and generosity of spirit.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
Monsieur Lazhar does the best job of summing up the appeal of his own movie: "A classroom is a place of friendship, of work and of courtesy ... a place of life."
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Monsieur Lazhar" is a complex, multilayered tale that reveals new meanings as it introduces each new character.
John Hartl - Seattle Times
Leonard Maltin - ReelzChannel.com
A sensitive and fairly subtle work, with the deceptive simplicity of a well-honed short story.
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
Perceptive and humanistic, Monsieur Lazhar unfolds in a world that recognizes and embraces complexity and duality, and isn't dishonest about the piecemeal way in which emotional centeredness is often achieved.
Brent Simon - Shockya.com
A subtle, wise, beautifully rendered tale, with exemplary scenes in the classroom between an amateur cast of savvy children and, as Monsieur Lazhar, a great actor, Mohamed Fellag.
Gerald Peary - Boston Phoenix
Sensitive, imbued with melancholy
Kent Turner - Film-Forward.com
An unexpected charmer.
Allan Hunter - The List
... not only a poignant saga of teacher-student relations, but a restrained and hopeful examination of the mourning process on children.
Todd Jorgenson - Cinemalogue.com
Monsieur Lazhar manages to weave humor into its essentially serious story and reveal layers of its characters' personalities step by step.
Leonard Maltin - Leonard Maltin's Picks
The film, alas, seems determined to be as careful, as gentle, as Lazhar himself.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
Fellag, a comedian and himself an exile from Algeria, makes Lazhar both a sensitive and an amusing figure. And the kids are just terrific, especially Emilien Neron as a boy who carries the guilt of the whole school on his shoulders.
Bob Mondello - NPR
The French-Canadian film Monsieur Lazhar has one of the most powerful openings I've ever seen in a movie.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
An understated story of coping with emotional blows that offers a compelling portrait of a decent man.
Walter V. Addiego - San Francisco Chronicle
Don't be put off by its hokey-sounding subject: this unexpectedly powerful, subtle little film is exquisitely made, enormously moving and politically-charged.
Caryn James - James on screenS
The film leaves you hopeful, and even exhilarated, that even the most painful wounds can sometimes heal.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
Fellag has created one of the great movie teachers...But the film is practically stolen by young Sophie Nelisse, an actress of such maturity she recalls 'Mad Men's' Kiernan Shipka
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
...a thoughtful film that delves into the grief and horror of the tragic event in a Montreal public grade school.
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Falardeau offers a film as believably wrenching, and finally cathartic, as the grieving process itself.
John Semley - AV Club
Though it's a bit too early to say that it's an unforgettable movie, one suspects it is. It's also about so many things it nearly defies explanation.
John Anderson - Newsday
This is a quiet movie centered on small moments that collectively form something deep and profound.
Robert Levin - amNewYork
Should appeal widely to arthouse audiences and lovers of smart, international cinema.
Pete Hammond - Boxoffice Magazine
Marvelous story of a crackerjack sub teacher with problems greater than those of his class.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
Fellag does for the film what his Lazhar does for the pupils: He's soothing and entrancingly enigmatic enough to keep us fixed to our seats.
Eric Hynes - Time Out New York
This surprising, humanist Canadian film about an Algerian immigrant seeking solace for his young students and himself is a winner.
Wendy Weinstein - Film Journal International
There's great potential for the kind of issues that are taken on, but nothing is resolved, and the biggest questions, of guilt and shame, the gulf of understanding between the first world and the third, remain unengaged.
Jesse Cataldo - Slant Magazine
The acting is stellar throughout the film, from the one-named Algerian actor Fellag's subtle and warm portrayal of the title character, to the cast of precocious children who make up his classroom.
Jonah Flicker - Paste Magazine
...a passable yet mostly underwhelming little Canadian drama.
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
A caring and compassionate man helps some grief shaken children deal with the suicide of their teacher.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
Monsieur Lazhar is a tender and touching drama that captures the pulse of both primary school politics and Canadian immigration.
Radheyan Simonpillai - NOW Toronto
The film is a small, quiet drama that sneaks up on you and delivers an impressive emotional wallop.
Liz Braun - Jam! Movies
Canada's Oscar entry is a sensitively acted, precisely directed drama about children forced to deal with issues of loss and death.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Algerian Fellag plays the title role with an obvious love for young minds finding their place in the world.
S. James Wegg - JWR