THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER Unclassified 18+
Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a mighty performance as a woman determined to nurture the talents of a precocious student, but her altruism turns twisted in this Sundance award winner.
Five-year-old Jimmy seems ordinary in all ways but one: his propensity for suddenly speaking aloud poetry created on the spot. His teacher, Lisa Spinelli (a career-best Gyllenhaal), sees Jimmy not just as a sublime prodigy but as her ticket out of her mundane life. But when Lisa presents some of Jimmy’s work at her weekly writing class – and elides mentioning they were written by a child and not herself – the praise she receives from her own teacher (Gael García Bernal, MIFF 2012’s No) sets her on a shocking, all-consuming path.
In adapting Nadav Lapid’s award-winning 2014 film of the same name for an English-speaking audience, director Sara Colangelo has switched the point of view from the child to his teacher, and its focus from masculinity and art’s place in a nation at war to femininity and art’s place in a nation of indifferent privilege. Colangelo’s version – made in collaboration with Lapid’s producer, Talia Kleinhendler, with Lapid himself executive producing – is both a nuanced trip into the psyche of a disillusioned woman and a remarkably tense thriller, and it won her the Sundance Directing Award (US Dramatic).
"Rippling with psychological complexity and sneaky humor, this is a rich character study that takes constantly surprising turns." – The Hollywood Reporter
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