As human beings, we share a natural desire to shield children from all the physical dangers in the world. This instinct often translates to emotional dangers too, though this French-Canadian Oscar-nominated drama makes a rousing and affectionate argument against being overprotective in the face of death and grief. More
Emigrating from Algeria, Bachir applies for a role in a Montreal public grade school where he replaces a teacher who took her own life (in that very classroom). Where painted walls are meant to cover the grim demise of the class’s beloved tutor, Bachir encourages a different healing tactic: self-expression.
Mohamed Fellag excels as the broken-yet-benign Bachir, whose own dark past plays as both an empathetic aid and an emotive hindrance. Writer-director Philippe Falardeau exhibits an expert understanding of a growing child’s psyche, one that would be lost if it weren’t for the film’s flawless young actors. The emotional dynamics shown by the child performers are nothing short of astonishing, from the kids’ chuckle-inducing natural cheekiness towards Bachir’s native language to the slow build-up of one young lad’s guilt, leading to an agonising confessional that’ll weigh down your heart, dragging your tear ducts with it.
This is cinema at its most impactful. Masterfully displaying the fragile dimensions of young grief-stricken minds, Lazhar boldly illustrates the therapeutic power of letting those minds speak out as opposed to keeping them in the dark during the darkest of times. Hide