Review: An Educator’s Devotion and the Wrong Kind of Intimacy in ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ - Fran Hoepfner

21 Oct 2014
Educators are tasked with a great responsibility: inspiring a thirst for knowledge and a passion for art and science in each generation’s youth. Nadav Lapid’s new film ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ takes this mission to a new extreme. The story itself is simple. The teacher Nira (Sarit Larry) discovers that one of her students Yoav (Avi Shnaidman) – a quiet, stoic child – will recite his own poems whose brilliance goes above and beyond her own abilities as a writer. In turn, she deems it her mission to nurture his ability at the risk of his and her wellbeing.

While the plot of ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ is relatively straightforward, the entire film is heightened by the intimate and artful cinematography. Shot by Shai Goldman, the camera is a character. Scenes are often shot from the center of the room, with the point of view doing a full 360 rotation as if to survey the surroundings before settling on a focal point of a scene. This is the task of a poet: seeing everything in a setting and finding what is most meaningful.

The tension is built through the intimacy of Goldman’s lens, and this attention to details heightens the film in a calm, steady way. ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ is not a hysterical film. Nira doesn’t fly off the handle. She is poised and deliberate in her madness, as is the camera, altogether giving the story a more nightmarish quality. And despite the film’s simple story, the audience is fully immersed in visually stimulating and often unsettling cautionary tale.

The Young Critics Workshop is organized in cooperation with Photogénie.