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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
I Have a Poem
by Betty Jo Tucker

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Parker Sevak astonish us in The Kindergarten Teacher, an intriguing drama about the power and unfortunate results of obsession. Gyllenhaal plays Lisa, who has been a normal kindergarten teacher for twenty years, and Sevak portrays Jimmy, the student she believes to be a child prodigy.

Directed and co-written (from a screenplay by Nadav Lapid) by Sara Colangelo, the movie follows Lisa as she begins to give Jimmy special attention and stays with her as she engages in non-professional actions that could ruin her career, reputation and family relationships. Gyllenhaal and Sevak are perfectly cast in these key roles. Their fascinating interactions come across seamlessly – and we can’t get enough of seeing them together, regardless of how questionable the situations become. Gyllenhaal usually delivers excellent performances, but this is Sevak’s first movie, so his adorable acting comes as a very pleasant surprise. 

Why does Lisa take so many risks with Jimmy? She might be going through a mid-life crisis and disappointed with herself, her husband and children, but I can’t help blaming it on a continuing education poetry class she’s taking. The instructor (Gael Garcia Bernal) appears to be quite inspirational, so Lisa gets hooked. Because I am also deep into the wonderful world of poetry, I empathize completely.

Imagine how impressed Lisa is when darling Jimmy starts reciting a lovely poem of his own – “Anna is beautiful enough for me” -- during a kindergarten class. Lisa’s intense attention to Jimmy makes us wonder if she is really interested in the child’s work or wants to claim it as her own. (Please don’t expect a spoiler from me here – just a poem.)                           

A little boy who’s only five

creates poems that seem alive.

His teacher thinks that he could be

a real genius of poetry.


She wants to be a poet too.

But her attempts just will not do.

Amazed at this child’s great talent,

she does things that she will repent.


Teacher and child bound together.

At least until there’s stormy weather.

We are quite stunned by much we see

while in awe of such company.


One of the year’s best films by far,

it brings us a new tiny star.

And Maggie Gyllenhaal earns praise

for her impressive acting ways.

A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet -- Orson Welles

(Released by Netflix and rated “R” for some language and nudity.)

For more information about The Kindergarten Teacher, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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