Monsieur Lazhar (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 2-Jan-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-From Stage to Screen
Interviews-Crew-Interview with Director Philipe Falardeau
Featurette-Audition Tapes : Alice and Simon
Script-Bachir's Story
Script-Alice's Report
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 96:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Philippe Falardeau
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Mohamed Fellag
Sophie Nélisse
Émilien Néron
Marie-Ève Beauregard
Vincent Millard
Seddik Benslimane
Louis-David Leblanc
Gabriel Verdier
Marianne Soucy-Lord
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Martin Léon


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French Linear PCM 48/24 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign language film category in 2012, French/Canadian film Monsieur Lazhar is the touching story of a teacher and his class of students both coming to terms with tragedy. Though it lost in the Oscar category to the equally good Iranian film A Separation it is an outstanding feature and one which belongs in the collection of lovers of drama and fine cinema.

     On an ordinary school day the 6th grade students of Montréal school arrive to find something amiss in their classroom. For two students an unlucky peek reveals that their teacher, Martine Lachance, has committed suicide by hanging herself from the classroom ceiling. In a blind rush the headmistress of the school appoints a psychiatrist to help counsel the students through the grieving process and also makes a quick decision on appointing a replacement teacher for the class.

     After reading of the tragedy Bachir Lazhar offers his services as a fill-in teacher until a replacement can be obtained. In her hurry to find a replacement the headmistress doesn't carry out any background checks. Had she done so she would have found out that not only is Bachir not a teacher but that he is a refugee liable to be deported back to Algeria and is suffering greatly due to his own tragedy. It is this terrible history that draws him to help the class through their grief.

     It is not an immediate success. Bachir uses old methods and his rigidity and severity not only create conflict in the class but attracts some attention and concerns from the parents. Gradually he and the class bond to each other and he develops close relationships both with the students and staff. At the centre of the student group are two friends in the middle of a rift. Young Alice is a bright and sensitive student who refuses to simply forget her former teacher. In that she has an ally in Bachir who thinks that only trouble can come from trying to avoid the issue and hiding it from the children. Meanwhile young Simon, a keen photographer, is acting up, raising concerns as to whether he has adjusted to the loss of the former teacher. Or is there something else going on with this young boy?

     Bachir draws criticism from the headmistress and the parents for trying to help the children through the tragedy by bringing it out into the open and refusing to pretend the tragedy did not occur. They believe that the children are too young to understand tragedy. Bachir, for reasons we learn through the film, believes that only by confronting the loss head on can the children ever move on.

     Mohamed Fellag gives a great performance as the troubled but genuinely decent human being Lazhar. Whilst he has to carry, in an understated way, the deep drama of the film he is ably supported by the children in the class particularly Sophie Nelisse as Alice. She is an exceptional child actor and it will be interesting to see her performance in the adaptation of The Book Thief. Director Philippe Falardeau paces the film perfectly. It had its origins in a one act play written by actress / writer Evelyne de la Cheneliere who has a small but important role in the film.

     Monsieur Lazhar is exceptional for bringing a clear and honest eye to a subject that could, in other hands, have been unbearably cloying and sentimental. Instead the film is both joyous and painful and is, to my mind, amongst the best films of 2012.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Monsieur Lazhar was shot on 35mm film and projected cinematically at a 2.35.1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for this Blu-ray release.

     The film is beautiful to look at throughout. The image quality is crisp and clear and there is a fine detail to the presentation. The colours are bright and vibrant and there are no technical defects with the transfer.

     The flesh tones are accurate.

     There are subtitles in English.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Monsieur Lazhar is presented with a pair of French language soundtracks. The prime track is a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. There is also a Lossless LPCM French 2.0 track. Both give a clear account of the film.

     The dialogue is clear and would, I imagine, be easy to understand for French speakers.

     The music by Martin Leon is moving particularly the piano theme which signifies the joy and tragedy and the heart of the film.

     The film does not make great demands on the sub-woofer nor is there a great deal of surround activity but nevertheless the surround track is appreciated.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

From Stage to Screen (33:40)

     A thoroughly enjoyable discussion between Philippe Falardeau and Evelyne de la Chenelière. The playwright talks about the process of adapting her one-man stage play to the screen and we get heaps of snippets from the play. Perhaps not surprisingly her greatest concern was the introduction of real children into the story. Interestingly, the director asked her to completely rewrite Lazhar’s fable for the film.

Big Talk with Philippe Falardeau (21:30)

     An interview from the Rotterdam Festival (where the film won the audience award) hosted by Dutch TV personality Annemiek Schrijver. I suspect that they didn't have an easy language in common as both speak in often broken English. It is doubly difficult for the director as the interview is conducted before the showing of the film so he is careful not to give anything away.

Alice and Simon Audition Tapes (5:58)

     Young actors Sophie Nélisse and Émilien Néron present their audition pieces. Cute.

Theatrical Trailer (2:08)

     The trailer for the film emphasizes the teaching aspect of the film and is a spoiler free zone.

Bachir's Story

     This presents the text of Bachir Lazhar's fable, The Tree and the Chrysalis.

Alice's Report

    This is the text of Alice's talk about her school.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The versions available in other Regions are the same. Buy local.

Summary

    Anyone who likes good dramas will love Monsieur Lazhar. It is honest and funny and splendidly acted.

    The Blu-ray is of very good quality and the extras are interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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