Why you should watch The Kindergarten Teacher

Written by Sara Colangelo and starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lisa Spinelli, The Kindergarten Teacher is the beautiful remake of Nadav Lapid’s 2014 film of the same name. 

The film sits comfortably on the dividing line that separates the twisted from the mundane. The narrative unfolds in a space that makes us uneasy; playing with the blurry, undulating thoughts that shift in and out of the appropriate, lightly held together by middle-class convention. 

Kindergarten teacher Lisa gives us a poignant look into what our own adult shortcomings might look like should they be projected onto the world in this physical manifestation of a desire to be more-than. 

“Anna is beautiful,
Beautiful enough for me.
The sun hits her yellow house,
It’s almost like a sign from God.”

The simple composition with which Kindergarten student Jimmy recites his poems only serves to highlight Lisa’s own creative inadequacies; her longing for the extraordinary never far from bubbling to the surface in a constant struggle between artful solace and intellectual integrity. 

Lisa’s attempts to romanticise her day-to-day life are endured by her family and co-workers and brought to light in several scenes, one powerfully so when her drunken, partying college-educated daughter spitefully proclaims her intellectual superiority.  

The scene cleverly surmises Lisa’s idolised image of the artist; once again trying to hide in plain sight from the average societal norms she regretfully encompasses. 

Films of a similar narrative often miss what this film nails; taking away the sinister underbelly that eventuates in sexuality to instead leave us with an understanding of her dull pain – long after she takes things too far.

In a lesser version, The Kindergarten Teacher would end in a world which proves to encourage and mentor the talented young Jimmy, yet Sara Colangelo’s writing reaches further to give us something hauntingly familiar, providing just enough light to placate the shade. 

A wonderfully written, well-paced and reflective film. The Kindergarten Teacher is streaming now on Stan. 

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