Love Letters to Cinema is a collection of ten "letters" in the form of short films (4 minutes each), written and directed by ten outstanding Israeli directors. The films and the directors ... See full summary »
The teacher Nira (Sarit Larry) is a woman with a warm professional manner and pleasant, ordinary middle-class life. She has a son in the army, a daughter in high school and a devoted husband (Lior Raz) with a decent government job. As a hobby - or perhaps as a vehicle for unexpressed ambitions and frustrated desires - she attends a poetry workshop with other amateur versifiers. Then one day she witnesses a startling act of creation. One of her pupils, a cherubic, sleepy-eyed boy named Yoav (Avi Shnaidman), is being picked up at the end of the school day. "I have a poem," he announces and recites a brief, elliptical love lyric, pacing back and forth as his nanny writes his words in a notebook. Nira is startled and intrigued, and the evolution of her interest in Yoav drives the film's suspenseful, unnerving, bizarre and strangely believable plot. At first, like any conscientious teacher, she is solicitous and encouraging. It's always good to recognize and celebrate what is special in a ...Written by
Amadeus in the sandbox? Intriguing Israeli film leaves a few loose ends
Although we felt it didn't quite succeed, even on its own terms IMHO, "The Kindergarten Teacher" is still very watchable. The dour social criticism—poetry no longer has a place in the state of Israel!—didn't really speak to us, though the satirical portraits of the PC haters in Nira's poetry class and the weirdos at the poetry slam were quite amusing, in a depressing way.
The main storyline, Nira's relationship with the chubby-cheeked prodigy, Yoav, gets your attention right away and really builds; our main complaint was that Yoav's character seems inconsistent—he's withdrawn and suspicious at first (and rightly so!), then suddenly turns trusting and confiding, without any real transition. (Maybe he just realizes he's found a new amanuensis to copy down his poems; we, on the other hand, were sorry to see the last of Israeli singing star Ester Rada, who plays Yoav's nanny, Miri.)
Another plausibility problem, at least judging by the subtitles, is that even the best read five-year-old could never have composed the poems he recites ("banality"? really?) The plot line got a little too cryptic for our taste as well—there's a teasing suggestion that Yoav's poems were actually written by Miri, another that he's channeling in verses recited by his uncle years before—and there are a couple of episodes meant to illustrate the, as it were, banality of Nira's life that seem like filler, but writer/director Nadav Lapid pulls it all together in the almost wordless final scene, set in a glitzy Sinai resort, that really makes it clear what Nira's nutty mission was all about.
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