Bad Education - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Bad Education Reviews

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August 30, 2016
One of my favorite movies, a softspoken masterpiece.
August 16, 2016
Bad Education finds writer-director Pedro Almodóvar at his most personal - and brilliant - experience, delivering a smart, touching, multi-layered drama that is every bit as compelling as it is difficult to watch - and features one of the strongest early performances from Gael García Bernal.
½ July 5, 2016
It isn't until a pair of scheming lovers attends a showing of a 1940s film noir at their local theater that we begin to realize that little about Pedro Almodóvar's "Bad Education" (2004) isn't methodically planned out. Combining the robust style of Alfred Hitchcock, Douglas Sirk, and Brian De Palma with the hedonistic maneuverings of David LaChapelle, it's a thriller so cleverly convoluted and so vigorously in awe of art for art's sake that Almodóvar's own structuring of the film hardly feels like something akin to deliberation.
As his movies seem to weightlessly exist in a parallel universe comprised of Technicolor atmosphere, forlorn subject matter, and emotional garishness, it's scenes like this one that remind us that Almodóvar is as much a film aficionado as he is a maestro of film. Upon departure from the theater, one of the characters remarks that he and his lover aren't much different from the likes of Phyllis Dietrichson and Walter Neff. It's a gratuitous line in a picture so labyrinthine, maybe. But in the context of an Almodóvar film, a moment such as this one is almost a self-referential comment, smartly placed and subtly mocking.
Intentionally, "Bad Education" is, at its core, a hell of a lot like a studio noir from the 1940s, but instead of John Garfield and Lana Turner being showcased as romantic leads, we're presented with John Garfield and Farley Granger tempting one another. And black-and-white photography is pigmented, with social taboos intensified and understated love scenes amplified to graphic proportions. The usage of metafiction (much of the movie's action takes place in a film within a film) has the possibility to pledge indecipherability, but Almodóvar's calculated control delineates the movie as a rousing whodunit of a melodrama. "Bad Education" is a portentously original film; it's one of the best of Almodóvar's thrillingly extravagant career.
It's no wonder that the movie is such a provocative masterpiece: he worked on the screenplay for ten years, and a filmmaker of his caliber can only heighten their own sapience through long-winded contemplation. A highly personal film for the auteur (some of its content is based off of his experiences as a young man), "Bad Education" stars the magnificent Gael García Bernal as Ignacio Rodriguez, an aspiring actor and writer interested in providing the material and acting talent necessary for acclaimed filmmaker Enrique Goded's (Fele Martínez) next project.
His aspiration isn't based in sheer fantasy, though - as he and Enrique were childhood friends (first loves, in fact), there's a sneaking chance that an Ignacio based production could be waiting in the wings so long as the goods are actually good. And they are: soon after Ignacio presents Enrique with his screenplay, "The Visit" (which details a transgender woman's blackmail of a Catholic priest that abused her as an impressionable student), Enrique becomes enraptured with the story - part autobiographical and part soap opera - and is eager to affirm Ignacio's celluloid dreams. Hidden, however, is the deceit that lies beneath his façade of affable ambition.
There are two films that fill the sum of "Bad Education's" parts. One is its "real life" component, in which Ignacio and Enrique are artists of the screen scrounging for something cinematic to slurp up as hair-raising sexual tension rests between them. The other is made up of the events that take place during "The Visit," which is sexually charged, sardonic, and memorably features Bernal playing the dual role of Zahara, a blonde, trans femme who serves as the movie's quasi-heroine.
But the lines between reality and illusion grow increasingly blurred as seemingly imaginary happenings prove to be embedded in a far-reaching truth. "Bad Education" is initially a convulsive drama (with inklings of black comedy) that shifts into the gears of a standard murder mystery, made all the better because its big twist is so impossible to see coming (the film doesn't feel like a thriller for most of its length). Almodóvar is a puppet master, as easily able to manipulate our senses as he is to shifting between subject matters without losing his central preoccupations of broadstroked homage.
And Bernal gives what very well might be the greatest performance to ever call an Almodóvar film home. As both an enigmatic beaut with a few tricks up his sleeve and a metafictional, feisty female, Bernal is tasked with fleshing out an immeasurably complicated dual characterization, only to find victory thanks to beguiling percipience. Almodóvar uses Bernal as if they were Josef Von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich, always framing his lead in a way that can only be described as both clinically (and artistically) infatuated and lustily exploitative. A fascinating pair, to be certain.
The film surrounding them, too, is a certifiable counterpart to their awe-inspiring devotedness. "Bad Education" at once feels inscrutably intimate and excitingly cinematic - like the majority of the films within Almodóvar's oeuvre, it grabs us by the shirt collar and astounds us in the way it both holds us hostage and genuinely hypnotizes us.
½ June 15, 2016
Not quite up to the standard I have become used to from Almodovar. This is, for once, not about women, but homosexuals. A revenge film that doesn't quite give you the satisfaction that it should.
½ May 23, 2016
The final act(the last 30 minutes or so) of Pedro Almodovar's "La Mala Educacion" is powerful and absorbing and might even make you rethink the whole film.
...which, before that final act, strangely enough, wasn't much. Strangely enough, because the ingredients where there, it's just that the overall result, before the final act, felt as if it was done in a hurry. The layers where there, certainly there were some intriguing elements, but it just wasn't attention-grabbing. It was not bad, just slow and a bit disappointing.

So, overall, I might give this a 3.5 out of 5. With two good acts(opening and ending) , I can forgive the limper middle one. Especially since it didn't take ages.
March 22, 2016
Shocking, bold and unpredictable.
February 2, 2016
I've seen most of Pedro Almodóvar's films and they are often top notch. This is a story that's typical Pedro - a family mystery where there are some twists laying around.

Gael García Bernal plays an actor that's hooking up with an old friend - now movie director. He want something more and he is making several people included in the mix of lies and tricks. It's hard to hang on at times at there are twins, deaths and trans-people everywhere. Lot's of half explicit nude scenes. The gay kind that is.

I like some of the effects and the production. The script is complicated but all right to handle - almost like a modern Hitchcock. Superb acting and some great scenes, but this twisted film is not on my top five list from the director. It's a bit disturbing and I lack some connection with the characters and some real excitement. Maybe there is a bit too much of everything here - there are loads of subplots. Gael García Bernal makes quite a good looking woman though.

6.5 out of 10 lighters.
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2016
For me, Bad Education represents the shift in style for Almodovar from camp comedy to edgy, often disturbing thriller. There is still plenty of the Almodovar you'd expect but there is something sinister and captivating that hasn't always been present in his previous films. It's certainly been visible since in Volver, Broken Embraces and the disturbing but brilliant The Skin I live In.
December 9, 2015
One of the best work of Pedro Almedor, with themes similar to those of his All About My Mother, he took rather more artistic way to explore the film making by introducing a story with a story. A connection between past and present is the narrative in a fantasized way which is very touching. The bitter taste of the reality in comparison of our memories is very well presented. Pedro never clanged on to his scenes much longer or tried to over dramatized his films which works best for the films length and matches the innocence of younger characters. The scenes in convent are worth praising. Daniel Giménez Cacho's work as a priest dealing with inner demon while in the presence of a child is very beautiful. Rest of the cast were good too.
Best of the movie would be the twist it came with the final character's introduction and explanation of alternate reality as to the one protagonist was imagining. A way to show the strength of the writer.
An emotional, convincing and disturbing work of art.
October 27, 2015
This isn't as surprising as I expected, given the notorious NC-17 rating -- but that shouldn't suggest that Almodovar's film is in any way, disappointing -- it is in fact, a riveting experience with an insightful and compassionate script that features a few clever twists.
September 12, 2015
While the movie suffers from going a little longer than it should, the story is so strong that the fully engaged would hardly notice.
June 24, 2015
As with any film directed by Pedro Almodovar, Bad Education was a film worth seeing for the sake of the director's filmography

The intro to Bad Education is very much like a Spanish pulp version of the intro to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece Psycho. What this immediately establishes is director Pedro Almodovar's keen eye for imagery which proves consistent throughout the film as anyone familiar with his works would expect. Iconic of Pedro Almodovar works, Bad Education has a fascinating sense of colour to it. Though everything is brightly lit and the characters all dress in colourful clothing, the film seems to be filtered by a slight touch of sepia which manages to illuminate everything about the props ,costumes and particularly the scenery which is lovely to behold particularly when the film makes use of . This manages to keep viewers draw into the story through consistent fascination with the visual style which is intriguing to see within the context of a film which is simply a drama at heart. Everything looks good in Bad Education, and things sound good as well thanks to the composition of Alberto Iglesias' musical score.
The musical score of the film is beautiful. It maintains an edge which delivers a sense of classical mysteriousness to the film, keeping the amosphere consistently intense from when it is first established within the intro. The music remains subtle as it is not excess in volume, but the slight rises in volume prove to be effective when the naturalistic manner of the drama means that there is little music in many of the prolonged periods of dialogue happening. Frankly, the story in Bad Education is not always the most interesting because it is more important for its characters than anything else and moves along at a rather slow pace without a perfect chronological structure, but no matter what happens there is always a sense of atmosphere brought on by the musical score and an appealing sense of colour captured by the beautiful cinematography.
Although many of the themes in Bad Education stem from edgy subject matter, the way that Pedro Almodovar approaches the material lets it naturally blend into the narrative. As a result, the extensive use of transgender characters like Zahara hardly define their existence. There is so much to the characters in the story, but the way the film treats the character Zahara more as a human being than a transgender figure is extremely admirable and something that more of cinema needs to promote as a means of progress. Pedro Almodovar once again proves that he is a great filmmaker due to the way he has such extensive respect for his characters above all else, and the screenplay that he contributes to the story as a means of supporting this notion is packed to the brim with dialogue that flows naturally from the mouths of the deeply written and intriguing characters. They are thrown into many situations throughout the story, and the slow pace may tend to dull things a little bit at some times. But ultimately, Bad Education is an intelligent film with a strong assortment of complicated characters whose on personalities and relationships with the people around them largely compensate for the fact that there is not all that much that actually happens in terms of narrative. Bad Education is not a film for everyone as it is a foreign language film in English speaking countries with a director who has a distinctive style, resulting in a slow story which is somewhat short on dynamics by a certain rationale. But those who can appreciate its artistic merits and unconventional nature will truly benefit from the experience that is viewing the film. I'll admit that it is far from perfect because by the end of the film I did not feel as if all that much had happened, and with the surplus of character plot points being the key source of story in the film there proved to be a lot of keeping up to do. But I value the experience of viewing Bad Education as another glimpse into the mind of Pedro Almodovar.
And since the man treates his characters with such respect, the performances of the cast are powerful.
Gael Garcia Bernal is truly wonderful in the lead role. Having just delivered a notable performance in the 2014 film Rosewater, it is great to go ten years back and see the actor working in his native Spanish cinema. What is impressive is the fact that he takes on the role of Zahara so naturally with natural flamboyance and dramatic flair with dedication so extensive that he bever steps out of the role or has to turn melodramatic. Gael Garcia Bernal is able to capture Zahara incredily well, but he also captures the alternative identities of Juan and Angel incredibly well. Gale Garcia Bernal's leading performance captures the complex psychology of multiple identities with instinctive dramatic talent both physically and internally, ensuring that the depth of the characters are all reached with sure brilliance.
Daniel Giminez Cacho is also brilliant. He feels to me like a Spanish combination between Jack Nicholson and Kelsey Grammar based on both the way he looks and his genuine approach to the darma. He is subtle in his line delivery, and yet his physical state is very intense isince his facial expressions suggest there to be something beneath the surface which keeps viewers engaged in an intention to find out what that may be. Daniel Giminez Cacho shares an intense chemistry with the other actors and has no problem bringing a strong sense of supporting drama to the narrative.
Fele Martinez also brings a sense of charm to his part.

So Bad Education is a slow film which doesn't have the most developed narrative, but with dedication to characters from both the cast and director Pedro Almodovar and an interesting visual style, it proves to be a fascinating experience.
June 12, 2015
Revisited this one on the occasion of a podcast reviewing it and I must say that Almodovar's film holds up amazingly well, filled with clever transitions between the various narratives and never loses the audience when operating between different flashbacks or interweaving storylines.

Definitely a recommended film.
½ May 26, 2015
Vibrant, bold, and sensational. Bad Education contains all of Almodovar's typical flourishes, beautiful direction and a twisty, layered, narrative. One of his best.
March 16, 2015
Terrific in every sense of the word. cursing myself that it took me so long to relish this.
½ December 2, 2014
Beautiful like any Almodovar film but a bit too much like volver and not as great as todo sobre mi madre
October 15, 2014
Can't go wrong with Almodovar.
October 12, 2014
This Pedro Almodóvar's exotica is unsettling to watch not only because it is one of his darker stories but also suspiciously autobiographical.
½ October 7, 2014
Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education explores the dark side of obsession and lies, Childhood friend Ignacio re-visits film director buddy Enrique. with a story about their past. Enrique turns it into a movie, but does some digging and finds out that Ignacio is not who he says he is. Then more revelations unfold in this burning mystery full of lust, passion, and obsession. It definitely clutches the dark side of humanity, for a superbly complex film from Pedro Almodovar.
August 30, 2014
In what may be Almodóvar's most personal film, the world-renowned director gives us a story of assumed identities, terrible secrets, and deadly revenge. Though it isn't too far removed from his other films narratively speaking, this one feels sadder, darker. Gael García Bernal, brandishing a surprisingly convincing Spanish accent, plays the central figure, essentially a triple role as a young actor who is not what he appears to be. Fele Martínez is equally impressive as the young filmmaker who can sense that Bernal is hiding something, but casts him in the lead role in a film about their shared past. Catholic sex abuse, drug addiction, blackmail, and malignant passion characterize the 'real' drama surrounding the 'fictional' drama, but beneath the narrative acrobatics lies a sense of despair unusual for Almodóvar. This is one of his most accomplished films from a technical standpoint, featuring some drop-dead beautiful imagery that enhances the story while also tastefully drawing attention to itself (like many of Almodóvar's films, this one functions partly as a celebration of the power of cinema). I don't want to reveal too much about the plot, since the element of surprise is especially crucial here, but I will say that in my opinion this is the best film Almodóvar has ever made.
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