The Kindergarten Teacher

Nadav Lapid’s second feature is smarter and more unsettling than his first, Policeman (2011), though it’s weighed down by art-movie cliches. The title character is a middle-aged woman suffering from a familiar case of urban malaise; shaken out of her torpor by a student who composes beautiful poetry with the ease of a master, she becomes obsessed with the boy, eventually going mad in her quest to convince the world of his genius. The film oscillates between a lament for the devaluation of poetry and a muted psychological horror movie (the boy’s talent is so uncanny that at times he seems demonically possessed). As a dramatist Lapid can be too oblique for his own good, and his story runs off the rails in the last half-hour, yet he generates plenty of food for thought. In Hebrew with subtitles.