The Kindergarten Teacher

Maggie Gyllenhaal leads this darkly funny drama as a teacher who becomes worryingly obsessed with nurturing a poetically gifted child’s talent.

"Gyllenhaal is Lisa Spinelli, a primary school teacher who aspires to a more engaged cultural life for herself and her family – who don’t share her enthusiasm. She finds an outlet for her artistic pursuits at an evening poetry class taught by a handsome instructor (Gael Garcia Bernal), who doesn’t care much for her poems. One day, five year-old student Jimmy (Parker Sevak) unexpectedly recites what appears to be a poem, and Lisa becomes convinced that he is a poetry prodigy. With his busy father uninterested, Lisa takes it upon herself to foster Jimmy’s talent, and soon enough the boundary is breached between care and unhealthy obsession." (Sydney Film Festival)



Winner of the Directing Award (Dramatic), 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Directed by

Written by

  • Sara Colangelo
  • (based on the screenplay of the same name by Nadav Lapid)

Drama, Festival & Independent


Rating: M Mature themes and coarse language


Hollywood Reporter


Rippling with psychological complexity and sneaky humour, this is a rich character study that takes constantly surprising turns, which should appeal to audiences hungry for idiosyncratic adult drama.

Screen International


Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a superbly enigmatic performance.

The Guardian


That's a level of daring we don't often see, particularly in a film about children. The Kindergarten Teacher is probably the only movie about poetry with an ending as tense as any thriller.

Variety (USA)


A movie whose glass is half empty - maybe it's just not possible to have a story about a 5-year-old's de facto stalker that isn't sure what it (or we) should think about the matter.



Lisa's drive is more than biological; it's intellectual and emotional, and that's what keeps what often risks becoming camp madness in an identifiably human place - almost all the way to the end.

Empire (UK)


Small-scale and slow, The Kindergarten Teacher works best as a showcase for the brilliance of Maggie Gyllenhaal. Adding another complex character to her resume, it's another reminder she is among the best actors working today.

Little White Lies


A piece of apposite cultural criticism with a stunning turn from Gyllenhaal.