The Kindergarten Teacher Review London Film Festival

Movie Bunker Score:

The Kindergarten Teacher: A Thought-Provoking Psychological Thriller

The Remake of Hagaganet

In the remake of Hagaganet, Maggie Gyllenhaal delivers a captivating performance as Lisa Spinelli, a Staten Island kindergarten teacher. The Kindergarten Teacher is a clever and thought-provoking psychological thriller that explores the dangerous obsession that develops between Lisa and her talented five-year-old student, Jimmy. Sara Colangelo’s remake is just as remarkable as the original Israeli drama, maintaining its complexity, boldness, and unsettling nature.

An Absentminded Routine

Lisa Spinelli, once a creative individual, now seems to have lost her spark and lives her days adhering absentmindedly to a routine. As a teacher, she mechanically teaches her students the alphabet while lost in her own thoughts. As a wife, she engages in shallow interactions with her husband, pretending to appreciate her clichéd poetry assignments. Unfortunately, her lack of talent as a poet is painfully visible to her students. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s delicate portrayal of Lisa showcases her struggles to stay afloat in a rejecting world, making her a complex and relatable character.

A Disturbing Discovery

Everything seems normal until Lisa discovers Jimmy’s extraordinary talent for composing poetry. Initially, her interest appears harmless as she attentively tracks the child’s progress. However, her behavior takes a darker turn when she starts retaining Jimmy’s poems for herself instead of returning them. This marks the true nature of Lisa’s unsettling fascination with the child. As her obsession intensifies, Lisa’s lack of boundaries and disregard for Jimmy’s well-being become evident, making her character increasingly unlikable.

An Escalating Obsession

Lisa’s actions worsen as she gives Jimmy unnecessary detentions and disrupts his sleep during nap time to force him to write more poems. She even invades the boy’s private life, calling his family, meeting his father, and criticizing the nanny. Lisa’s decision to save her personal number in Jimmy’s phone and encouraging him to call her with new poems demonstrates the extent of her unhealthy fixation. As Simon, Lisa’s poetry teacher, praises her teaching methods, we realize the potential harm Lisa’s toxic personality may have caused Jimmy.

The Teacher’s Midlife Crisis

Sara Colangelo’s skilled direction allows us to perceive the transition from a seemingly harmless tale to a chilling horror story. We witness the brokenness and obsession not only within Lisa but also within Simon, her poetry teacher. Lisa’s husband remains oblivious to her needs. As viewers, we cannot help but understand Lisa’s profound sadness and brokenness, which drive her toxic behavior. Lost and insecure, Lisa projects herself onto everyone she meets in an attempt to find validation.

A Multilayered Bond

The bond between Lisa and Jimmy, though destructive and toxic, is not entirely negative. It serves as a catalyst for personal growth and decisive choices that shape their lives. Paradoxically, Jimmy, the five-year-old student, becomes the most authentic and mature character in the film. As the story unfolds, we are left wondering what the future holds for him. The Kindergarten Teacher masterfully explores the complexities of human behavior and portrays an emotional, intense, and disturbing journey.


The Kindergarten Teacher, directed by Sara Colangelo, is a gripping psychological thriller that delves into the dangerous obsession of a kindergarten teacher with her talented student. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s exceptional performance and the thought-provoking storyline make this film a must-watch. With its dark and unsettling nature, The Kindergarten Teacher captivates audiences and prompts reflection on the boundaries of passion, ethics, and morality.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is The Kindergarten Teacher a true story?

No, The Kindergarten Teacher is not based on a true story. It is a fictional film that explores the psychologically complex dynamics between a teacher and her student.

2. How does Maggie Gyllenhaal portray the character of Lisa Spinelli?

Maggie Gyllenhaal delivers a delicate and nuanced performance as Lisa Spinelli, perfectly capturing her struggles to find validation and her descent into obsession. Gyllenhaal’s portrayal adds depth and authenticity to the character.

3. How does The Kindergarten Teacher compare to the original Israeli drama, Hagaganet?

The Kindergarten Teacher, a remake of Hagaganet, maintains the same level of complexity, boldness, and unsettling atmosphere. Both films explore the controversial subject of a teacher’s obsession with a student’s talent.

4. Does The Kindergarten Teacher have a happy ending?

The Kindergarten Teacher does not have a conventional happy ending, as it explores darker themes and complex emotions. The film leaves room for interpretation, allowing audiences to reflect on the consequences of obsession and the choices made by the characters.

5. Where can I watch The Kindergarten Teacher?

The Kindergarten Teacher premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is now available for digital streaming and on-demand viewing. Check your preferred streaming platforms or rental services for availability.