The Kindergarten Teacher – Film Review by Cathal Ryan
Director(s): Sara Colangelo
Writers(s): Sara Colangelo
Actors: Rosa Salazar, Gael García Bernal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Chernus
Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a Kindergarten teacher. She’s also a wife to Grant (Michael Chernus) and the mother of two teenage children. Sounds like she has a lot on her plate already? Think again, as she somehow finds time to go to an adult learning class where she writes bad, bad poetry. One day in her school, one of her children, Jimmy Roy (Parker Sevak) stares into the middle distance and recites a short verse of poetry. Lisa is so impressed that she decides to present the poem as her own at her next poetry class. And so begins our merry escapade.
This film is based on the 2014 Israeli film of the same name, which was written by Nadav Lapid. This new version is co-written and directed by Sara Colangelo, who has an indie hit on her hands. She directed ‘Little Accidents‘ in 2014 but otherwise has little pedigree other than a few shorts. It is the story of a woman who thinks she sees a spark of genius in a young child and then gets quite worked up about it all. Whether intentional or not, Maggie Gyllenhaal is hilarious as this intense and quite dim teacher.
It’s hard to take this film too seriously as the subject matter is just so bizarre. The small child spews out fridge magnet poetry and then we watch Ms. Spinelli get her knickers in a twist about it! What’s not to love really? Despite how earnest this film is, it is a hoot from start to finish. I’m just not sure the makers meant it that way, or does that even matter? Go see Maggie chewing the scenery.