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Monsieur Lazhar | 2011 | PG-13 | - 1.4.4

A middle-aged Algerian refugee (Mohamed Fellag) offers his services as a teacher after learning of an elementary school teacher's death. He soon finds himself torn between comforting the grieving students and overstepping the strict rules of teaching. Also with Sophie Nelisse, Emilien Neron, Danielle Prouix and Brigitte Poupart. Directed by Phillppe Falardeau. In French and Arabic with English subtitles. [1:34]

SEX/NUDITY 1 - A male teacher turns down a girl's offer to dance, half-jokingly saying, "What would they think?" A man asks another man if he is interested in a female teacher and the man says he is "not looking." A male teacher asks a boy if he "has a crush" saying that he had a crush on a classmate when he was younger (the boy does not answer). A woman advises a group of teachers that a boy had accused a female teacher of kissing him after the teacher had hugged him; we later hear a schoolgirl accusing the boy of lying about the female teacher and the boy admits to a classroom of children that the woman had only hugged him. School children giggle when a teacher proposes that if two students were to have a child it would have a very long last name; another student comments that they would have to name the second child after the father, and the target of the teasing shouts that she is not having any children.
 A man makes facial gestures and points to a woman, encouraging another man to go dance with her. Men and women kiss on the cheek in greeting.

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VIOLENCE/GORE 4 - A boy looks through the window of a classroom door and discovers a woman hanging from the rafters (it is an apparent suicide and we see the dead woman briefly); the boy drops a milk crate in shock, he runs for help and we see a woman run down the hallway and lead a group of school children out the door and away from the room, as a girl goes to investigate, she looks through the window of the classroom door and it is implied that the girl sees the woman hanging.
 A boy knocks another boy's hat off repeatedly and the boy whose hat was knocked off grabs a picture (a photograph of a teacher that's now dead) from the other boy's hands and shows it to a girl, who becomes upset; the two boys wrestle, and one shoves the other into a set of lockers and drops him to the ground until teachers separate them. A boy has a nosebleed and we see a male teacher helping him wipe his face.
 A boy throws balls of paper at another boy in a classroom, one ball of paper hits a girl and the teacher grabs the boy's arm and insists that he apologize to the girl, another girl in the room tells the teacher that he should apologize to the boy for grabbing his shoulder, saying they are "not in Saudi Arabia" and the teacher chuckles and sarcastically responds that everyone should be glad they are not in Saudi Arabia.
 We see a courtroom where people discuss how dangerous Algeria is: a man explains that he and his family were the target of death threats after his wife wrote a book that called out murders and civil unrest and a man tells the magistrate that he had left to find a new life for his family, and that his wife had been killed in an apartment fire the day she was supposed to escape with their children; the man explains that his wife had burned to death and his daughter had leapt from the 3rd floor trying to save herself from the fire and died. In a courtroom, we hear a magistrate read that a fire that had killed a man's wife and family was ruled to be arson and lit as a terrorist attack on his family and that the man is being granted political asylum because if he were to return to Algeria he would be at risk.
 A boy shouts angrily at a classroom of children that a teacher had kissed him until a girl criticizes the boy, saying that his accusations had caused the teacher to commit suicide; the boy cries, a teacher comforts him, and the boy explains that he thinks the teacher had purposely committed suicide knowing the boy would find her. A boy angrily tosses his book bag next to a girl after the girl implies that the boy had prompted their teacher to kill herself. Schoolgirls mock a teacher saying that the teacher probably does not know how to read or write.
 During a report in front of a classroom, we hear a girl explain that a teacher had committed suicide, hanging herself from a pipe using a scarf; the students appear upset and a teacher later reads the report to another teacher, saying that the students were affected by the report. School children stare at a corner in a classroom and a boy tells a teacher that the corner was where another teacher had hanged herself. A boy tells a classroom of children that his grandfather had killed himself by throwing himself out of a window to avoid further torture after being imprisoned by political enemies. A man asks a woman about another woman who had committed suicide and the woman says that the dead woman had "not been well" for some time. Several schoolgirls discuss how a teacher had committed suicide, and one of them comments that her parents are "freaking" about the situation. A school principal instructs a room of school children and parents that a psychiatrist will be made available for evaluations and discussion in the aftermath of a teacher's death.
 A man tells several teachers that his child had come back from summer camp with second-degree burns because the counselors were not allowed to put sunscreen on them. During a discussion among teachers, we hear that parents want an aggressive child expelled because he is becoming increasingly violent.
 A boy and a girl who had witnessed the dead body of a teacher hanging from the ceiling of their classroom discuss how they think of the teacher now that she is dead: the boy asks the girl if she has any nightmares, and the girl implies that she does, but does not ask the boy; the boy gives the girl a photograph of the teacher and she declines accepting it, saying that having the photo would be "weird." A man carries around a box, another man asks if the box was filled with jam and the man replies that it is filled with his wife's belongings, implying that she is dead. A man asks another man if he has problems sleeping, and asking if he has nightmares; the man responds that he does not sleep well. A woman advises a man that a student is leaving school because she has nightmares in the aftermath of a teacher committing suicide. A boy shows a classroom of children a photograph of a dead squirrel and one of the girls turns away. A girl jokingly says that a city is "dog-pee yellow."
 A woman advises a man that as a teacher he cannot hit any students, and the man says he did not hit anyone; a second female teacher walks in and remarks that she used to twist students' ears and they would behave. A male teacher uses a whistle to get a boy's attention and the boy turns around and the teacher dismisses him. During a report in front of a classroom, a girl remarks that people at a school are responsible for the well being of the students, including checking for lice and evaluating if students are aggressive.
 We see several boys running up a small hill, shoving other boys; a teacher asks a girl what the boys are playing and when the girl says "king of the mountain" the teacher scolds the boys to get away from the hill.

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LANGUAGE 4 - 3 scatological terms, 1 anatomical term, 2 derogatory term for the mentally handicapped, name-calling (nuts, jerk, not normal, liar, fat, humongous, dumb, stray dog), 1 religious profanity, 1 religious exclamation.

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SUBSTANCE USE - A man and a woman have glasses of wine. We see a woman smoking cigarettes.

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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Despair, suicide, coping with loss, parent-teacher relationships, Algeria, terrorism, political asylum, disappointment.
MESSAGE - Helping people overcome a loss is very difficult.
CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.



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