Maggie Gyllenhaal’s new film “The Kindergarten Teacher” may be a Polanski-like psychological thriller and allegory about obsession, but she says it perfectly captures the way many women are feeling in 2018 – mute.
“I think she’s a woman right now who’s going, ‘I’m starving. I thought I was OK. I’m not OK,'” Gyllenhaal told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), speaking of her character’s need to be heard. “And that’s what all of us are doing. That’s like the cultural conversation right now.”
In Sara Colangelo’s film, which premiered at Sundance and screened at TIFF this month, Gyllenhaal plays a kindergarten teacher who overhears a child reciting a poem and takes an unhealthy obsession with him when she starts to believe he’s a prodigy.
“The Kindergarten Teacher” takes a sinister turn and ratchets up the tension to thriller levels, but Gyllenhaal says the story serves as a case study for what happens when a woman’s voice is ignored and suppressed.
“She’s also an artist, and she’s just completely not being heard or seen as an artist, as a person in her life at all,” Gyllenhaal said. “Like many women these days, she’s waking up to the fact that she’s ‘starving.’ In terms of trying to get herself fed, she goes down this really questionable path.”
Gyllenhaal points out that Colangelo’s film is an “allegorical example,” but that the stakes and the parallels to today’s cultural conversation are still very real.
“Here’s an example of the consequences of ‘starving’ a woman. It doesn’t have to be this,” Gyllenhaal said. “But still, here are the consequences. This is what’s on the table if you don’t ‘feed’ us.”
“The Kindergarten Teacher” will be available on Netflix on Oct. 12. Watch a clip from our interview with Gyllenhaal and co-star Gael Garcia Bernal above.
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