This is the story of an Algerian immigrant substitute teacher who brings emotional stability to a Montreal middle school class shaken by the suicide of their well-liked teacher.
On the face of it, “Monsieur Lazhar” appears to be an extra-mild entry in the “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”-“To Sir With Love” genre, but its mind is on larger matters and its heart is full of sorrow and rage. Canada’s entry in the 2011 foreign language Oscar race, the film was bested in the category by Iran’s “A Separation,” and that’s as it should have been. It does no disservice to “Lazhar,” just now appearing in the Boston area, to say it’s not an epic of frustrated humanism on the order of Asghar Farhadi’s film. Writer-director Philippe Falardeau is working on a more intimate scale, and he achieves everything he sets out to do.