The Indie Film Corner: ‘Monsieur Lazhar’ and ‘Goodbye First Love’


By Dennis Tavernetti
“Monsieur Lazhar” from The World Series presented by Emerging Pictures in HD at USCB Center For the Arts Monday, August 6 at 4 p.m.
Synopsis: In Montreal, an elementary school teacher dies abruptly. Bachir Lazhar, a 55-year-old Algerian immigrant, goes to the school to offer his services as a substitute teacher. Quickly hired to replace the deceased, he finds himself in an establishment in crisis, while going through his own personal tragedy. The cultural gap between Bachir and his class is made immediately apparent when he gives them a dictation exercise that is beyond them. Little by little, he learns to better know this group of shaken, but endearing kids like Alice and Simon, the two charismatic pupils particularly affected by their teacher’s death. While the class goes through the healing process, nobody in the school is aware of Bachir’s painful past nor do they suspect that he is at risk of being deported at any moment.
Ratings & Reviews:  Internet rating sites, IMDb: 7.6; Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 97/Audience: 92 Outstanding Marks! Critics: New York Times: “Like no other film about middle school life …”; Wall Street Journal: “…wisdom and grace … quiet beauty…”; NPR: “… just terrific.”
Previewer Comments: This Canadian film in French with English subtitles is a wonderful experience and portrays the impact of a human tragedy on others and how a single person can trigger understanding, recovery and healing by reaching deep inside and utilizing their own caring and hope.  It is also a fine reminder that in most things where we give our heart fully, we usually receive more in return.
Rated: PG13.

“Goodbye First Love” from The World Series presented by Emerging Pictures in HD at USCB Center For the Arts on Wednesday, August 8 at 6:30 p.m.
Synopsis:  Fifteen-year-old Camille is a serious, intensely focused girl who has fallen in love with cheerful Sullivan, an older boy who reciprocates her feelings, mostly, but wants to be free to explore the world. When he leaves her to travel through South America, she is devastated. But over the next eight years, she develops into a more fully formed woman, with new interests and a new loves — and the possibility that she’ll be less defenseless when Sullivan enters her life again. Filled with scenes that showcase an extraordinary ability to evoke moods and feelings, the film takes the story of a girl’s first romance and makes it into a singular experience that feels uniquely personal.
Ratings & Reviews:  Internet rating sites, IMDb: 6.2; Rotten Tomatoes: Critics: 80/Audience: 60 Good marks. Critics: Roger Ebert: “… fascinating”; UK Guardian: “… outstanding film”; Daily Telegraph: “… convincing and memorable.”
Previewer Comments:  This French film in French, with English subtitles, is about a girl’s first love, and all her loves after, until she meets the first one again. It is interesting to understand that the reasons for loving one or another person are impossible to quantify and if they are, how they can change over time as we mature and gain more experience.  More than anything else, this film demonstrates that love is normally fickle, changing, and can be different at different times in our lives.
Rated: Not rated, but likely to be R due to sexuality.
Tickets for adults are $7, seniors $6, students $5. Call USCB Center for the Arts box office at 843-521-4145 or purchase day of performance. Box office opens an hour before the show.
Dennis Tavernetti is a resident of St. Helena Island and retired to the Lowcountry having a lifelong interest in the arts.

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