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Avi Shnaidman (L), Sarit Larry (R). A kindergarten teacher discovers in a five year-old child a prodigious gift for poetry in The Kindergarten Teacher. Amazed and inspired by this young boy, she decides to protect his talent in spite of everyone.

GAT

3 out of 4 stars

Title
The Kindergarten Teacher
Written by
Nadav Lapid
Directed by
Nadav Lapid
Starring
Sarit Larry, Avi Shnaidman, Lior Raz
Genre
Drama
Country
Israel / France
Language
Hebrew with English subtitles
Year
2015

Poetry is dead – but maybe a five-year-old boy can save it, with the help of his kindergarten teacher.

"Hagar is beautiful enough … Rain of gold falls upon her house," intones Yoav (Avi Shnaidman) pacing in his Tel Aviv schoolyard, crafting a sophisticated poem far beyond his years – almost as if he were channelling it. His nanny Miri (singer Ester Rada) thinks he's a freak – even as she dutifully records his words – but teacher/amateur poet Nira (Sarit Larry) recognizes a great talent in her sad little pupil.

Nira values poetry, unlike her kind husband (presumably representing the masses) who is too busy watching lowest-common-denominator television (the film opens with him on the couch, watching TV panelists joke about Hitler wearing hot pants) to appreciate great art. What Nira, descending into midlife crisis – or madness – plans to do with Yoav's unusual talent is unclear. Pass off the poems as her own? Or something even more sinister?

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Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid (whose debut Policeman was a critical hit) keeps us guessing. His message seems clear even if his characters' motivations aren't always: if this societal sandbox we play in quashes creativity, can a prodigy – whisked away into a different world – blossom, instead of flatten and fade away into normalcy? Or is that the wrong kind of rescue?

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