The Kindergarten Teacher
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The Kindergarten Teacher

We live in an era where the specter and awareness of child abuse is so pervasive that you can’t just throw that issue into a narrative without really taking it on — doing anything less would be like introducing the proverbial gun and then never having anyone fire it. Based on Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s 2014 drama of the same title, Sara Colangelo’s “The Kindergarten Teacher” stars Maggie Gyllenthal as the title figure, a dissatisfied working wife and mother on Staten Island whose frustrated artistic aspirations find an outlet of sorts in the discovery that one of her 5-year-old charges is an apparent poetical prodigy.

As her interest rapidly grows from enthusiasm to obsession, she begins crossing the line of acceptable professional behavior — but with viewers uncertain whether she’s simply an over-zealous mentor or someone who poses a real threat to a child’s well-being, the ambiguity with which Colangelo views that line-crossing frustrates as well as intrigues. For the lead actress (also a producer here), this is a chance to play another complex, problematic, not-entirely-likable character in the mode of such prior personal-best roles as “Secretary” and “Sherrybaby.” But the hazy middle ground between “Good Will Hunting” and creepy psychological thriller inhabited here is perhaps a zone a little too grey for a topic as charged as that which “Teacher” ambivalently circles.

Duration: 96 min

Release:

IMDb: 8.0

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The Kindergarten Teacher