A teacher’s obsession with her talented five-year-old pupil who recites his own poems in moments of inspiration, reveals more than a benevolent zeal in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s sublime portrayal of Lisa Spinelli. Realising that he will be consumed by the mundanity of everyday life and ignored by his busy, disengaged father, Lisa takes matters into her own hands and begins to document his poems. As events unfold, the magnitude of her obsession tells us more about her. The tapestry of Lisa’s work and family life and her weekly poetry class offers small episodes which quietly signify the underlying desperation in her world. The denouement is deeply moving.
Director: Sarah Colangelo
Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gael Garcia Bernal, Michael Chernus
Gyllenhaal exudes fresh-faced earnestness and a kindliness we wish in good primary school teachers. Her character may be desperate but never threatening, and yet if we were not privy to Lisa’s point of view, this could be a very different interpretation. Although Jimmy seems a bit too tiny to believe as a great poet, the closing scenes might convince the most hardened sceptic otherwise.
In Cinemas March 2019