Review: The Kindergarten Teacher

That's a poem.

Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) teachers kindergarten in New York. She takes a poetry class at night from Simon (Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal) where she doesn't really succeed. One day she notices one of her students Jimmy (Parker Sevak) composes a beautiful poem while pacing her room. She writes it down, and passes his work off as her own at poetry class. She becomes obsessed with him thinking he's a prodigy and that no one in his life is nurturing him enough.

This movie is so uncomfortable. I wanted to wake my child up when I was finished to have yet another "You know you're not supposed to get in other people's cars, right?" I think as a parent in this day and age you have to suspend a bit of disbelief in a sense to think that Lisa gets as far as she does, but this film knows what it's doing and it's here to make you squirm. 

Maggie Gyllenhaal is fantastic in this and easily gives one of the best performances I've seen all year. You can tell how frustrated Lisa is in her life and how this obsession sneaks up on her. The strongest part is when she's fully aware what she's doing is wrong. You can see the wheels spinning while she tries to remain logical. Unfortunately none of the other supporting characters get enough material to even remotely match her performance. This is Maggie's show.

I have a rather large problem with the way this film ends. It was a bold move, but I felt it could've been 5-10 minutes longer with a bit more detail. This felt like a situation where less isn't more.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "Don't let her talk to you like you're a puppy." - Lisa (Maggie Gyllenhaal)

Comments

  1. I do want to see this as I'm a fan of Maggie as she's always given out good performances.

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  2. I have heard of this film and it is supposed to be quite good although I heard it was not a comfortable watch

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  3. Never heard of this, but I'm intrigued in about a dozen different ways (being a teacher, having a kindergartner of my own, strange ending, Maggie Gyllenhaal, etc). If only I had the energy to be obsessed with my student's work. Hell, if only my students actually did work.

    Great review as always, Brittani.

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    1. I hope you watch it, I'd love to hear what you think.

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  4. I'm in the middle of watching this, and I'm getting so stressed with Maggie Gyllenhaal's character that I have to pause it once in a while. It really is uncomfortable, and I want to yell at her to stop doing what she's doing.

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    1. Oh man me too. Like, how does she not see how inappropriate this is?

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  5. I understand why Maggie's character was impressed by the kid and wanted the kid to be better, but Damn. Can't the kid play baseball and just be a kid. Yeah he's got talent, but she didn't need to drag him to poetry clubs and exploit him. Plus his poems were only so so. I don't know, I could never write a poem to save my life or my brother's..... I will miss you Mark RIP

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    1. Or insult his babysitter who wasn't doing a damn thing wrong lol

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  6. Finally watched this and wrote my own review so I made my way back here to read this. I mostly agree. The one area where we differ is on the ending. It was so devastatingly perfect to me. The very thing she kept warning him about, the world just not listening to him not nurturing his talent, immediately starts to happen. She knew what she was talking about even though she was batshit crazy.

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    1. Thanks for coming back! I just wanted to see her face her consequences, I guess. I know the ending does technically work well for all the reasons you mentioned, but I wanted 5 more minutes. lol

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