BY Daniel Malia

The Good 

Masterful performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal 

The cinematography was creative and aesthetic 

Powerful themes supported consistently in the movie

The Bad 

Other characters are not as developed as Lisa

The Kindergarten Teacher is a remake of an Israeli movie of the same name. A delicate and sombre movie about a five-year-old poetry prodigy and his kindergarten teacher. Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as Lisa, a kindergarten teacher who is studying poetry at night school. When she discovers that one of her students, Jimmy, is a natural poet. We follow her throughout the film as she nurtures the young prodigy obsessively.

The movie plays with the theme of natural talent and how it is a delicate and fragile thing. We get a sense that Lisa is seeking more meaning in her life, it is heartbreaking seeing the different reactions when she presents her poem to her class right after Jimmy’s. Most movies with prodigies usually have them as the star, but not this one. Having one of the supporters as the main protagonist really brings more humanity and illustrates how taxing it is to aid in the creation of a genius.

Maggie Gyllenhaal gave a stunning performance in this movie, her warm performance compliments Parker Sevak’s disinterest and very much innocent performance as Jimmy.

Pepe Avila del Pino did an amazing job with the cinematography. He mutes the colours throughout the movie, making it feel like a dream sequence. This makes the colour palette pop more in certain scenes. Serene and calm the camera work is simple, switching between handhelds and still, steady zooms work with the tone of the film.

What I love and hate about this movie is that Lisa is a very well developed and rounded character, she is almost in every scene. With that said, I felt other characters in the movie took a more supporting role as compared to Lisa. As she is the central protagonist in the story, spending more time with her is great because we see her internal struggles like being disappointed in her own children.

The Kindergarten Teacher is a movie about expectations and natural talent. Serene and almost hallucinogenic, this film is shot beautifully and targets how we compare ourselves to the “gifted”. Living vicariously through someone is what this movie is about, and I would recommend taking your parents to see it with you when you feel mature enough.

BY Jean Kearney

‘I have a poem…’ – Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’. 

The Kindergarten Teacher tells the story of Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal), an experienced kindergarten teacher and mediocre poetry student, who suddenly discovers that her 5-year-old student Jimmy is a poetic prodigy. Enthralled by the child’s talent, Spinelli is frustrated by the lack of appreciation Jimmy’s poems receive. Driven by a desire to nurture his talent, Spinelli takes a special and increasingly inappropriate interest in the boy. As their relationship gently escalates from uncomfortable closeness to cringeworthy disregard for boundaries, we become increasingly caught up in the intensity of their connection.

For Spinelli, who longs to be recognized as special and talented, Jimmy’s ability offers both hope and despair – and it is this tone that makes the film so insightful and thought-provoking. The film excellently captures Spinelli’s obsessive search for purpose and creativity, in a world that she views as increasingly conventional and mundane. Gyllenhaal does a brilliant job of ensuring that despite the inappropriateness of her character’s behaviour, we continue to empathise with her desperate desire to protect something as precious, and as easily lost, as a child’s poetic soul.

The film maintains an underlying sense of tension, but also manages to intersperse moments of humour and absurdity. There are also a few heartbreaking scenes in the film where we truly feel the loss experienced by Spinelli, but it is perhaps the films final scene that leaves you most touched – and most uncertain about where the limit of nurturing actually lays. 



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