Netflix once again dabbles in indie film genre with director Sara Colangelo’s production “The Kindergarten Teacher.” The film has a run time of 90 minutes and premiered on Oct. 12, 2018.
In this film, kindergarten teacher Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is feeling bored of her life. She has a husband and kids, but she wants them to engage in more intelligent behavior. She is against her son joining the military because he has good grades, and although her daughter receives straight As in school, Lisa wishes she would pursue a creative passion. It is evident that she is tired of her husband as she would rather answer a phone call than have sex with him. Even taking poetry classes outside of work doesn’t seem to brighten up her world. Everything changes once she notices one of her students spontaneously recite a brilliant, original poem at the end of class.
The idea of a child prodigy in the field of poetry is wonderful. The character of Jimmy is only five years old and at random periods of time across the period of a week, he paces back and forth and recites original poetry that includes inciteful themes in an incredibly articulate way.
Even with this attractive idea, the protagonist is highly unlikeable, and I tend to have difficulty making it to the end of movies or television shows if I can’t sympathize or relate to the main characters. The fixation that Lisa has on Jimmy is uncomfortable to watch at times as she crosses the line, advancing her relationship with him to interactions outside of the classroom.
Lisa engages in inappropriate relationships galore as she disrespects Jimmy’s babysitter and pries into his family life to discover more about how his poetry writing talent came to be. She selfishly disrupts his learning and nap time during school to try and influence his mind with poetic elements in order to induce him to compose more and more poems.
Although the protagonist is mostly problematic, she also has some positive aspects about her. She recognizes that Jimmy has exceptional talent when others in his life either perceive him is strange or fail to listen to his extraordinary work. Additionally, she wants the best for her kids as it is mentioned that she worked extremely hard in school to be where she is now. But the good does not outweigh the bad.
Although Lisa is an undesirable character, I do recognize that Maggie Gyllenhaal gave a great acting performance. Additionally, the cinematic elements of “The Kindergarten Teacher” came together perfectly. The scenes were the perfect length to emphasize moments of conflict and complications, and the camera angles perfectly captured the emotion of the film.
Overall, “The Kindergarten Teacher” is a visually beautiful film that comments on the intensifying unappreciation of art and original talent in modern society that advanced with the influx of social media. The film centering around a young child at the age of only 5 years old exhibiting the incredible talent of composing fine poetry is a breath of fresh air in a world that seems to ruminate on negativity. Although the relationship between Jimmy and his teacher crossed boundaries and isn’t enjoyable for some viewers, this complicated the plot to make it more interesting to the audience.