Kindergarten Teacher: Lapid’ Provocative Probe into Young Talent and Educators Role

Nadav Lapid’s second feature, Kindergarten Teacher, is smarter, more provocative and also more unsettling than his first, Policeman (2011), which never got legit theatrical distribution in the US.

The title character is a middle-aged woman suffering from urban malaise; marriage that’s not terribly exciting, grown up kids that are too independent.

She is shaken out of her torpor by a young boy who composes beautiful poetry with the ease of a master.

Gradually she becomes obsessed with the boy, eventually going mad in her quest to convince the world of his genius—for her he is the new Mozart.

The film oscillates between a lament for the devaluation of poetry due to the standardization of conventional education and a psychological horror movie.  The talent of the boy, who is five and a half years, is so uncanny and erupts so suddenly erratically (like when he swims or sleeps) that at times he seems demonically possessed.

As a dramatic writer, Lapid is often too oblique and vain; he impresses more as a director than scribe.

And the suffers from a bad, incoherent ending; in fact, in the last reel, the film runs off the rails.

Nonetheless, Kintergarten Teacher is a provocative film that raises interesting questions about education, the role of teachers vs. family in cultivating talent, the limits of authority, and the potential threat of teachers manipulating innocent and dependent children.

In Hebrew with subtitles.
Running time: 115 minutes