Canada’s Foreign Language Film nominee from writer-director Philippe Falardeau loosely falls in the dramedy genre because this tale about Bashir Lazhar (Mohamed Said Fellag), the Algerian immigrant who replaces a popular elementary school teacher in Montreal after her suicide, is more attuned to the quiet personal drama that beset Lazhar and his students.
The politics of immigration and freedom of speech hang over the proceedings, but the film never stoops to pandering or fronting for a particular agenda. Through it all, Falardeau injects real warmth and humanity in the situation, enough to let audiences feel a sense of relief as life returns to normal for everyone. And Fellag lets us in; his eyes are truly clear windows into the soul of a wounded man seeking to heal himself. Now at Mariemont Theater; opens at The Esquire Aug. 10. (PG-13) Grade: A-