When a popular teacher at a Montreal elementary school commits suicide alone in her classroom, Algerian immigrant Bachir Lazhar (Fellag) is hastily hired to replace her. His methods are a little out of touch with modern Canadian pedagogy, but he slowly adjusts and becomes a dependable, well-liked member of the staff. However, his students are still grieving the loss of their teacher, especially Simon (Neron) and Alice (Nelisse), who discovered the suicide. Over the rest of the school year, Lazhar helps them move forward, as he himself deals with an unspeakable tragedy in his own past.
Simply and movingly told, Falardeau's drama addresses complex issues of immigrant assimilation, modern teaching practices, and, most important, the ever-mysterious process of grief. Fellag, known mostly for comic roles, turns in a warm, honest performance that disarms the viewer and anchors the film, while the young actors playing his students seem remarkably natural and at ease. Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, "Monsieur Lazhar" imparts vital lessons in humility and perseverance. School's in session!