Forty years old, stuck in Staten Island and married to a sweet but oblivious husband with kids that largely ignore her, Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) spends her days teaching Kindergarten with growing numbness. Her one reprieve is a nighttime poetry class across the bay in Lower Manhattan, taught by Simon (Gael García Bernal). When she discovers that a five-year-old in her class (Parker Sevak) may be a poetic prodigy, Lisa becomes fascinated–then obsessed, as she struggles to protect him from neglectful parents and a plagiarizing babysitter. She soon finds herself risking her career, family and freedom to nurture his artistic promise.
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Showings of this film are part of our Cinematheque season which is supported by the British Film Institute.
“What gives The Kindergarten Teacher its peculiar force is how quickly it acknowledges the darker side of Lisa’s nurturing impulse — and how successfully it ushers us into a strange complicity with her all the same. Colangelo, who made her feature debut with the 2014 drama Little Accidents, balances the story’s myriad conflicting tensions with admirable lucidity. That’s another way of saying that she keeps the camera steadily trained on Gyllenhaal, whose brilliantly discomfiting performance anchors every scene.” Los Angeles Times
“Small-scale and slow, The Kindergarten Teacher works best as a showcase for the brilliance of Maggie Gyllenhaal. Adding another complex character to her resume, it’s another reminder she is among the best actors working today.” Empire
“The Kindergarten Teacher is probably the only movie about poetry with an ending as tense as any thriller.” The Guardian
“Overplayed though it is, this is an emotionally intelligent film with a lot to recommend it.” Eye for Film