Too many films about school insist on showing the teaching and learning enterprise at its worst. Students are portrayed as at best troubled and often just rotten, teachers are stupid or mean; parents are arrogant or absent. “Monsieur Lazhar” doesn’t, and that is only part of what distinguishes this moving, intelligent Canadian film, which opens in the Washington D.C. region on Friday, the Washington Post reports. The film, a 2012 Academy Award finalist for Best Foreign Language Film adapted from a one-character play, tells the story of an Algerian immigrant in Montreal who takes over an elementary school class after the students’ popular teacher commits suicde. Over the course of the quietly powerful movie, the audience learns that the new teacher, Bachir Lazhar, has suffered a tragedy of his own, and it watches as the adult and the students over whom he takes charge, go through a healing process separately and together. From the very first day it is clear that the new teacher, who is seeking political asylum in Canada, comes from another culture, nationally and academically, yet those differences are transcended by common human sensitivities and emotions…

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staff and wire services reports