The Kindergarten Teacher Screen 22 articles

The Kindergarten Teacher

2014

The Kindergarten Teacher Poster
  • Nadav Lapid's second feature is smarter and more unsettling than his first, Policeman (2011), but as in the earlier film, Lapid tends to dilute his provocative ideas with art-movie cliches... As a dramatist Lapid can be too oblique for his own good, and his story runs off the rails in the last half hour, yet he generates plenty of food for thought.

  • Larry offers a subtle portrait of a woman who’s ordinary on the surface, but decidedly abnormal underneath. The concept would work better if Yoav’s poems soared, but they’re merely pleasant. The movie eventually reveals itself as a wispy, good-looking riff on “Amadeus,” with poor Yoav standing in for Mozart, while Nira never becomes as mordantly fascinating as the composer’s rival Salieri.

  • Nobody in The Kindergarten Teacher functions as a credible human being, and the film’s ostensible theme—fear of the artist in a materialistic world—is merely presented in slow motion rather than explored.

  • Lots to talk about, but more fun to talk about than watch, feeling slightly forced, academic and none too convincing. Policeman was a state-of-the-nation fresco, this is more of a speculative doodle.

  • Cumulatively the film traces a slow and disturbing path toward her greater obsession. A subtly presented clue suggests the nature of Yoav’s recitations–to us, that is, if we catch it. Nira misses it, or chooses to ignore it.

  • The boldness of The Kindergarten Teacher is in the way it accepts the perverse intentions behind Nira's maternal impulses, as well as the way that it suggests a love affair between woman and child.

  • One of the standouts in this year’s festival, “The Kindergarten Teacher” uses a savagely political lens to track one woman’s passage into madness or maybe clarity... The director Nadav Lapid has loosened the exacting visual style he deployed in his debut feature, “Policeman,” but his politics still cut.

  • While The Kindergarten Teacher is not as plainly symbolic of "the state of Israel" (as in "condition," or "nation," too, I suppose), it bears many of the same structural imperatives of Policeman. Lapid may be examining how similar tensions, particularly regarding obsessive professional identification, play out in roles that have been traditionally been defined as male vs. female.

  • Not many filmmakers could pull off a pitch like the one in The Kindergarten Teacher, whose story centers on a woman obsessed with her 5-year-old student and his remarkable gift for poetry. Yet Israeli writer-director Nadav Lapid (Policeman) not only makes this rich and rather strange tale convincing on screen, but he does so with the aesthetic prowess of a first-class auteur, combining a realistic, at times documentary approach with cinematic flights-of-fancy that are often thrilling to behold.

  • There are several ways to view the film. One is that Yoav is a modern prophet (early on, the class sings a Hanukkah song about how the Jewish people have had a savior for each age), and that the natural reaction to a prophet in modern times would not be disbelief but exploitation. But Lapid, who wrote the screenplay, also offers an impassioned defense of creativity.

  • From [the premise] the movie could most likely be one of two things: a heartwarming tale of the woman's guidance of this preternaturally creative child (Sundance version) or the chilling tale of a woman's exploitation of that child (Euro festival version). But no, Lapid walks a tender tightrope that is a subtle, very unusual middle course: moving _and_ disturbing.

  • Trading the precise mise en scène of Policeman for reflexive, rupturing formal strategies, with a borderline-invasive camera that gives the film itself (and not just its characters) a searching and rapacious quality, Lapid sustains a multiplicity of possible meanings in this mordant, coolly ambiguous work.

  • Lapid’s anomalous gambit of a film, as unfashionable as a book of poetry, rewards for treading a line somewhere in between, neither overly ironic nor gratuitously provocative (the preferred modes of current arthouse cinema). The film confronts its difficult-to-render subject with a candid sense of discomfiture. It’s serious but not humourless.

  • At first blush a less elaborate, and certainly less searing, work than its predecessor, Lapid’s latest in fact integrates a greater index of themes and ideas into its highly self-reflexive framework.

  • As he decenters everything but the Hatikvah, Lapid’s provocations generate a profound imbalance that may never be restored—but his uncanny ability to observe those contradictions is itself poetic justice.

  • Lapid (Policeman) has a keen eye, and this second collaboration with cinematographer Shai Goldman is visually complicated, the camera waltzing smoothly back and forth and around the kindergarten class with barely an interruption. You expect such coordination on the stage, but it’s rare in a movie, especially one full of pre-K children. Goldman knows how to film the more intimate scenes, too.

  • Another stellar filmmaker, Nadav Lapid, showcases his uncompromising, assured storytelling in The Kindergarten Teacher...

  • In rendering Nira and Yoav’s urban world, Lapid and DP Shai Goldman create compositions that are at once incisive and enigmatic, often shooting at a child’s eye level and showing both old-soul wisdom and endearing worry in Schnaidman’s terrific face. But rather than just depict human oddity, Lapid’s film leaves us with the insights of an essay on art.

  • Refreshingly, The Kindergarten Teacher offers a view of Israeli society that sidesteps the usual clichés. There are no images of Benjamin Netanyahu ranting away. The film barely acknowledges the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, it includes a black (possibly Ethiopian-Jewish) character and touches on the tension between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. (Nira is one of the latter.)

  • All of this makes it that much harder to decide what The Kindergarten Teacher means—but you certainly know how it feels, and how deeply strange it feels. At one point, there’s a reference to André Breton on the subject of dreaming: before going to bed at night, he would put up a sign reading, “Do not disturb. Poet at work.” But Breton also said: “Beauty will be convulsive, or not at all.” And it’s the convulsiveness of Lapid’s film that makes it beautiful, and beautifully perplexing.

  • Today, when any film with a vaguely Instagram look is celebrated as the truest portrait of our times, The Kindergarten Teacher takes a far more intricate path: instead of superficially imitating the world, it develops an elaborate formal and narrative system so as to reflect on the contemporary beliefs and uncertainties brought on by the twin crises of art and authorship.

  • The Kindergarten Teacher is far from a perfect movie — there’s an archness and deliberateness to the dialogue that doesn’t always do justice to the complicated emotions the film evokes. If you read this instead of seeing it, or saw it performed on a stage, everything would feel a little too on-the-nose. But Lapid’s thrilling use of the camera, the way his unbalanced frame and his imaginative staging work with the precision of his story, results in something new and genuinely unnerving.

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