Thursday 13 August 2015

THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER - Reviews By Greg Klymkiw - Creepy Ode to Artistic Genius

The Kindergarten Teacher (2014)
Dir. Nadav Lapid
Starring: Sarit Larry, Avi Shnaidman

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The world is so full of mediocrity, conformity and ugliness that to discover pure beauty in artistic expression makes one want to hold on to it and never let go in order to preserve the delicacy and shelter it from all that could possibly shatter, tatter and tarnish the perfection. This is what faces the title character of Nadav Lapid's extraordinary film.

Nira (Sarit Larry) is a hard-working kindergarten teacher committed to making sure her students get everything they need to enrich their minds. When she discovers that one of her students, five-year-old Yoav (Avi Shnaidman) has the mysterious ability to plunge, almost trancelike into creating some of the most astonishing poetry she's ever heard, Nira begins to spend an inordinate amount of her time with the child for fear that she'll miss an opportunity to hear him recite works of exquisite maturity and observation. She begins writing down his verse in order to preserve it.

This is all well and good until she begins to shield Yoav from the other kids in class, fearing they'll taint his genius with their normalcy. In addition to reading his work aloud in an evening adult education creative writing class - claiming it as her own, Nira even takes to unhealthily prying into the child's home life, assuming his parents are ill-equipped to nurture his artistic genius.

Nira decides the best thing she can do, is kidnap Yoav and take him away from anything she believes will be a bad influence.

Writer-director Lapid creates a creepily compelling portrait of a teacher's love for her student's genius with a steadily mounting sense of unease. This is not a traditional thriller in any sense of the word, but at times, it sure feels like a wrenching psychodrama in the tradition of early Roman Polanski.

Sarit Larry and Avi Shnaidman have a terrific onscreen chemistry and their performances are so compelling that they create, with camera-loves-them intensity, the kind of images of beauty, inspiration and even modulated terror that stay with you long after the film ends.

The film is strikingly original storytelling, never taking expected turns and always, through the sheer force of its carefully layered characterization, writing and controlled (but never "showy") direction, knocking you for several loops along the way and like all great films, compelling you to see it again and again.


The Kindergarten Teacher is in theatrical release via VSC (Video Services Corp.) It plays from August 14 at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto and the Cinema du Parc and Cinema Beaubien in Montreal.