THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER (AKA L’INSTITUTRICE) | MOVIE REVIEW

I am pleased to announce this is our first year covering the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE) Israeli Film Festival. We will be reviewing a selection of their films, they all look fantastic, and you can catch the AICE Israeli Film Festival all around Australia commencing 19th August and going through to September 7th (see the poster below or their website for further details and to purchase tickets). We are kicking off our reviews with a fine film review from newbie Kernel Vanessa Capito, she was one of our first book kernels who is expanding into movies. She reviews the amazing looking, and slightly controversial movie, THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER (AKA L’INSTITUTRICE). It runs for 119mins and has a festival rating (it looks M-ish). Enjoy Vanessa’s review below…….all the best…….JK.

 

THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY VANESSA CAPITO

Nadav Laipid’s, THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER, is an intimate movie telling the story of a teacher, Nari (Sarit Larry), whose passion with her five-year-old student, Yoav (Avi Shnaidman), a coming of age poet she beholds as a child prodigy, that soon turns into an obsession.

The film is Larry’s first screen appearance in over decade and it becomes quite clear in the first few scenes of the film why Lapid has chosen her for the role. Her ability to make the audience empathise with her desperate desire for artistic purity draws us in entirely, making it so much more troubling and disturbing for us as the plot unfolds in her quest to protect Yoav from the harsh reality of adolescence. The other half of THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER is young Yoav Pollak, played by newcomer Avi Shnaidman. His capacity to seesaw between the youthful innocence and the purity of childhood and what could even be conceived as a demonic power is captured so inextricably well by Lapid. Whether Shnaidmans ability to do so is because of skill, or purely his young age, he no doubt brings a comparable truthfulness and sensibility to his character, as well as the film as a whole narrative.

 

THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER MOVIE IMAGE
THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | NIRA (SARIT LARRY) AND NOAV (AVI SHNAIDMAN)

 

In THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER, Lapid tunes out a lot of the background noise in relation to the turmoil and politics happening right now in Israel, and focuses purely on its wannabe bard heroine and her young poetic prophet. The opening scene shows kindergarten teacher, Nira (Sarit Larry), with her husband (Lior Raz) in their mundane Tel Aviv apartment. It’s clear from this opening sequence that Nira lives a fairly banal and monotonous life, with her children, now adults and living independent lives. It’s here that we begin to empathise with Nira which allows us to then understand why she takes such a liking to young Yoav in the following scenes. However the stiffness in her character might split some viewers in their opinion of her as the tension and awkwardness she exudes at times makes it difficult to really relate with her. At some points in the film her constant desire to be connected with Yoav was overbearing and simply annoying, but this no doubt was Lapid’s intention in the development of Nira’s character to somewhat psychotic (though that word may be a little harsh) towards the end of the film, leaving you considerably grateful that you didn’t take a complete liking to her.

Shai Goldman, the D.O.P for the film who worked with Lapid back in 2011 on his previous film POLICEMAN, is a great asset to the film’s expressive ability. His use of dynamic close-ups make the characters in THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER much more scrutable, bringing an eeriness to the film that makes us question the motives and agendas of the characters, specifically those of Nira. And though the answers are intense, they aren’t nearly as satisfying as the visuals.

 

ISRAELI FILM FESTIVAL 2014 POSTER IMAGE
THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | ISRAELI FILM FESTIVAL 2014 POSTER

 

As the films progresses we begin to see Yoav and his own act of falling into a trance in which he paces back and forth before the recital of his poems, which are both astutely simple, yet incredibly reminiscent. One of the more interesting facts about the film however, is that Lapid claims the poems recited by the kindergartener were actually written by himself, around when he was the same age as Yoav is in the film.

Overall, THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER is an incredibly beautiful film, indulging in a narrative that not all filmmakers could execute as well as Lapid has, confirming his talent is one to watch out for.

 

3 Pops

 

 

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