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The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)

R | | Drama | 12 October 2018 (USA)
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A kindergarten teacher in New York becomes obsessed with one of her students whom she believes is a child prodigy.

Director:

Sara Colangelo

Writers:

Sara Colangelo, Nadav Lapid (based on the screenplay by)
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981 ( 187)
1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Maggie Gyllenhaal ... Lisa Spinelli
Gael García Bernal ... Simon
Ato Blankson-Wood ... Justin
Libya Pugh ... Marianne
Michael Chernus ... Grant Spinelli
Carter Kojima Carter Kojima ... Derek Bishop
Jillian Panlilio Jillian Panlilio ... Jillian
Parker Sevak ... Jimmy Roy
Anna Baryshnikov ... Meghan
Noah Rhodes Noah Rhodes ... Steven
Rosa Salazar ... Becca
Daisy Tahan ... Lainie
Haley Murphy ... Brittany
Sam Jules ... Josh Spinelli
Carson Grant ... Michael
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Storyline

A kindergarten teacher in New York becomes obsessed with one of her students whom she believes is a child prodigy.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 October 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Kindergarten Teacher See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The poems in The Kindergarten Teacher were written by Kaveh Akbar and Ocean Vuong. See more »

Quotes

Jimmy Roy: I have a poem... I have a poem.
See more »

Connections

Remake of Haganenet (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A fascinating drama that really makes you think
8 November 2018 | by themadmoviemanSee all my reviews

This is a fascinating film, although not one that immediately appears as such. The Kindergarten Teacher is a patient and slow-moving watch, but it's one that creates an enthralling tension beneath the surface, as we see rather bizarre but fairly innocent behaviour get more and more out of hand, furthered by a riveting social perspective that adds a brilliant emotional depth to the main characters.

So, the main thing to know is that if you watch The Kindergarten Teacher, it's not a film that will come to you in the first ten minutes. In fact, it's all a little strange over the course of the first act, as we see Maggie Gyllenhaal's character being bizarrely obsessed with a five year old boy, yet with the story presenting it as if there's nothing abnormal about what's going on.

However, the story really does come good in the latter stages (which I will get into), but that doesn't mean that it's a boring watch early on either.

Above all, Maggie Gyllenhaal's performance is what makes The Kindergarten Teacher work right the way through, as she gives a down-to-earth and thoroughly convincing portrayal of a clearly kind-hearted woman, yet is able to subtly create a certain tension and unpredictability about her over the course of the first act - getting a little too close to her student, and coming out with rather uncharacteristic hippie-esque soundbites - something that really intrigued me as her character's true nature becomes clear throughout.

It's an undoubtedly excellent performance, and Gyllenhaal gives it the ambiguity and tension that the film really needs to make its central themes work.

Now, while that tension and uncertainty grows and grows as the teacher's behaviour becomes ever more bizarre, the film introduces some really fascinating central ideas that lend a stunning emotional depth to our main character, as well as the story as a whole.

At first, you're left a little bemused as to why this woman is acting in such a strange way, but there's a riveting peeling back of the layers throughout that show the stress and disappointment in her own life that has eventually led her to this point.

In that, the film has a little bit of a commentary on the nature of mid-life crises, while also bringing the widely relatable notion of feeling disappointed at your own failures, as we see a woman with ambition and a wider appreciation for the world, and yet has come up short time and time again, further frustrated by the rest of the world's seeming apathy towards the finer things of life, as she sees her own failings mirrored in the potential future of a young boy.

What's even more interesting about those central themes, however, is that they can be interpreted in a variety of ways, largely depending on how optimistic or pessimistic you are towards the nature of art and poetry, as well as your own personal take on ambitions and purpose in life in general.

As a result, The Kindergarten Teacher isn't a film that spoonfeeds you with a narrative showing our main character as simply good or bad, but instead makes you think with a more ambiguous portrayal, leaving you to fall back on your own interpretations to make a judgment of your own, something that I found absolutely fascinating and incredibly rewarding come the end of the film.

Overall, I was really rather impressed by The Kindergarten Teacher. It starts off in bizarre fashion, and although its main thematic core doesn't really come about until about halfway, there's a riveting dramatic tension that bubbles right from the start thanks to Maggie Gyllenhaal's fantastic performance, culminating in a drama that's both enthralling, and really makes you think.


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