The Kindergarten Teacher: the artistic movie’s ending, explained

The Kindergarten Teacher

Based on the 2014 Israeli movie of the same name, The Kindergarten Teacher (2018) is a movie which asks the question- how far can one go for art appreciation? Let’s see what the movie is about.

Spoilers Alert!

A poetry loving kindergarten teacher

Lisa Spinelli is an interactive and hands-on kindergarten teacher. She’s also been taking continuing education classes for poetry. While she loves it, her own creative work falls short and needs improvement.

At home, she is a wife and a mother to 2 teenage children- who are brilliant. Yet, Lisa wishes they were more curious, observant and artistic. Her girl loves photography, but only limited to digital and her son wants to enlist in the Marines, much to her confusion.

Meeting Jimmy, the prodigal child

One day, at the end of the day at kindergarten, Jimmy, a young boy, moves back and forth muttering something similar to a poem. The poem “Anna” is heard and noted down by Lisa. When his nanny Becca comes, she asks her to note down any poem he mutters.

At her evening class, Lisa reads “Anna” and everyone is impressed! They discuss the poem, the intention in it. But Lisa doesn’t tell them the truth. She lets them assume the poem as hers.

Over the next few days, Lisa spends special attention on Jimmy. Either taking him away from nap time to indirectly tell him about her prompts from the class or trying to inspire his muse. But his poems work on their own accord. Another poem he wrote “The Bull” is again presented by her in her class.

Is it attention or obsession now?

By time, Lisa grows more obsessed about Jimmy’s poems. She’s invited by her teacher to a poetry club since he believes her progress is astonishing. There, they give into their desires and sleep together.

Lisa reaches out to Nikhil- Jimmy’s father, who hasn’t been actively involved in his life due to his busy work. She tells him about his gifted son, a great poet in making. Nikhil appreciates but wants that as a hobby and for him to be more practical in life.

At Lisa’s complaint that Becca isn’t a good influence on him and is late as well, Nikhil is angry and seeing opportunity, Lisa steps in. But now, with direct access to Jimmy, she seems to be smothering of him- even giving her personal number to call when he’s having a poem.

Without getting Nikhil’s permission, she takes Jimmy to the poetry club in Manhattan and there she reveals that it’s Jimmy who wrote the poems. Her teacher asks Lisa to leave the class as what she’s doing is unethical and incomprehensible.

Chaos descends in the eerie climax

Realizing what Lisa had done, Nikhil transfers him to another kindergarten. Lisa is disturbed by the fact and follows them one day to his new kindergarten and takes him with her. They go to the lake near Canada’s border and have fun. Once back in their motel room, Lisa goes to the bathroom to freshen up.

Jimmy locks her door from the outside and upon asking, says it’s on purpose. Lisa tells him how they’ll go to Canada and she’ll help him publish his poem and how the world will erase him and his talent. Upon hearing Jimmy try to call the police, she instructs him that it’s through 911. She even gives him the location information to relay. At last, he opens the door on her insistence to dress and stands holding her hand.

The touching last scene shows Jimmy being carried out to the police car. Once inside, he says that he has a poem twice, but no one listens.

What does the ending tell us?

In the end, almost immediately we see Jimmy’s talent neglected by people. Even if Lisa supports and appreciates his prodigal talent, she goes about it the wrong way. They both value each other but somewhere, a line was crossed which led to the ending. Basically, it’s reflective of the frustration of intellectuals in the modern world.

Talking with Roger Ebert, director Sara Colangelo questions “Where does art fit into a world of gadgets, in a world of overseas wars and in this kind of fast paced world that we’re in? Where does poetry fit in? … Do we have time for it?”