When Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag) arrives at a Montreal public grade school seeking a job, he could be just the answer to a tragic event.
Teacher Martine Lachance has just committed suicide by hanging herself in her classroom.
Discovered by one of her pupils, the death sends the school into a tailspin.
Desperate to get the students back into class and with no other alternatives, the principal takes a punt on a mysterious Algerian teacher.
Lazhar's gentle manner and empathy with the children soon wins him favour around the school.
But no one knows about his secret past in Algeria or the reasons that brought him to Canada.
And no one is aware of his personal fight to stay in Canada.
Lazhar manages to put his own issues aside to help the children work through their demons.
One particular pupil, Simon, poses a significant hurdle as he was the one who found Lachance and blames himself for her death.
Simon takes his troubles out on his fellow students and his new teacher.
Lazhar sees parallels between his own life and struggles and the grief his students are going through.
Subtitled from French, Monsieur Lazhar is a poignant story of death and dealing with its aftermath.
(M) 94 minutes
Rating: 3 / 5