The Kindergarten Teacher is a taut psychodrama of a woman searching for fulfilment along morally ambiguous lines when she goes too far nurturing a gifted child.

It’s the creation of writer-director Sara Colangelo, based on a 2014 Israel film, and centres around a career-best performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal whose subtle and elusive incarnation of Lisa, a seemingly perfect kindergarten teacher with a wayward moral compass, is simultaneously alluring and disturbing.

The tense and carefully crafted film explores ideas of the pursuit of intellectual prowess and creativity, our modern day social-media-fed superficiality and a woman of a certain age living in a sexless marriage asking: is this is it? Meanwhile the stream-of-consciousness advanced poetry that emerges from her young student cryptically implies a kind of magic realism. The brilliant Gael Garcia Bernal puts in a reliably good performance as the poetry professor with a romantic interest in Lisa while young Parker Sevak is outstanding as the young genius.

We were there at the film’s London Film Festival premiere to speak with Maggie Gyllenhaal about what drew her to the complex and unusual story, working with Colangelo and how she sees female roles in the industry currently.

Sara Colangelo spoke to us about why she wanted to produce her own version of the Israeli film and her experience of working with Gyllenhaal.

By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 20th October 2018.
Videos: Marta Starczynowska

The Kindergarten Teacher is released nationwide on 8th February 2019. Read our review here.

For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.

Watch the trailer for The Kindergarten Teacher here: