Bad Education Reviews
While maybe not as racy today as it seemed in 2004, this endlessly juicy, surprising, and Hitchcockian film is supreme entertainment.
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.
...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.
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.
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.
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.
Definitely a recommended film.