I can’t remember exactly when or where I first saw Monsieur Lazhar, but I know it couldn’t have been long after it was released. What I do remember, and quite vividly, is how moved I was by it. I can remember the complexity of feelings I felt for its characters: the sadness, the joy, the despair at times, and the passion and pride resulting from a powerful educational experience. The film touches on a number of sensitive issues pertinent to our situation today–particularly those regarding feelings and acts of alienation; and in my opinion, Monsieur Lazhar‘s ability to so fully express the complexity, and yet importance, of simply existing in this world is noteworthy.
I saw the movie before I really knew how much I wanted to teach. Looking back now, it’s easy for me to see how the feelings it spoke to in me are very much a part of my teaching practice. Although I don’t think about Philippe Falardeau’s film every day before I stand in front of my own students, I do appreciate a film that can get at how hard it can be to be a teacher and an individual human being (we’re not solely defined by our profession after all—as the film demonstrates), and how very rewarding it can be to make an impact on the lives of others in even the smallest way and in some of the most horrific of instances.
Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar (2011) is playing at the Indiana University Cinema on April 7, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. It is a part of the The Cinema of Philippe Falardeau series this semester, and the director is scheduled to be present at this screening. The series also includes a screening of Falardeau’s Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre (My Internship in Canada) on April 8, 2017 at 3:30 p.m.
Katherine Johnson, currently a third year legacy PhD student in Communication and Culture, studies film and media, genre (particularly the Western), gender, and performance. She has a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and has been obsessed with film since the beginning.