Monsieur Lazhar – Phillipe Falardeau (2012)

There is an awful lot of power at work just below the surface of Philippe Falardeau’s Oscar nominated grade school drama. After their teacher commits suicide in their classroom during recess, a class of 11 and 12 year olds have a tidal wave of unfamiliar feelings with confront with their new teacher, an earnest Algerian refugee who lied to get the position. Ernst Lubitsch always said let your audience add two and two together and they’ll love you for it, and that’s a lesson Falardeau learned well. He attacks the material with a stern yet soft touch, avoiding the obvious pitfalls, and Mohamed Fellag and youngsters Sophie Nélisse and Émilien Néron hand in equally impressive, subtle performances.