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Not just another French film about troubled school kids. The new term has started and a well-loved teacher is found hanging in his classroom by two of his pupils. Stranded without a teacher, the headmistress quickly takes on Monsieur Lazhar who miraculously appears claiming years of experience. Lazhar remains an enigma throughout much of the film, revealing little of himself or his troubles. Escaping Algeria in exile after the murder of his family, Lazhar is still able to express his love to for life and teach it to the children in his class. Despite opposition to his unconventional teaching methods, he wins his pupils around. More than just a refugee film, the movie humanizes those who have sought asylum – as a character, Lazhar could be from anywhere. It’s also encouraging to see an Arab protagonist struggling though universal hardships without relying on embarrassing or racist stereotypes. Charming, heartfelt and certain to provoke a few tears, this film is a must see, for anyone.

4/5

 

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