Sara Colangelo’s sophomore feature, The Kindergarten Teacher, takes audiences on a wild ride over the course of an hour and a half.
Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a kindergarten teacher and she seems to be at a rather boring place in her career, going as far as telling her assistant (Anna Barynishikov) “to hell with the core curriculum.” As she teaches poetry classes at night, she soon learns that one of her students, Jimmy Roy (Parker Sevak), is a gifted poet. She starts instructing Jimmy’s new nanny, Becca (Rosa Salazar), to write down every poem he comes up with–at one point, Lisa even goes as far as entering her phone number into his phone so he can call whenever he comes up with a poem.
Lisa’s obsession with Jimmy’s poems take her down a path that no teacher in the right state of mind would even consider. She starts to steal his poems and use them in class as her own–one of which discusses the mysterious Anna. Who is she? Another such poem refers to a bull. These poems have some kind of meaning for Jimmy but Lisa decides to take it a step too far. She has him participate in a poetry reading while her own class instructor (Gael García Bernal) is sitting in the audience. Did she give any thought to plagiarizing Jimmy and taking credit for his poems?
For my full review from Sundance, please click here.
The performance that Maggie Gyllenhaal delivers in this film is nothing short of phenomenal to say the least. I remember watching her performance back in January. To say that I was blown away would be an understatement. She is in top form! This is a woman who allows her life to spiral in such a way that we can’t even imagine. Every little action that Lisa makes is one that causes us to cringe in watching. None more so than when Lisa makes the decision that falls into career suicide. The actress is a serious awards contender if Netflix plays their cards right.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Sara Colangelo
CAST: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Parker Sevak, Anna Barynishikov, Rosa Salazar, Ajay Naidu, Samrat Chakrabarti, with Michael Chernus and Gael García Bernal