Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Teaser trailer; Theatrical trailer;
Television spots; Making of montage. Photo gallery; Press book;
Costume design feature; Deleted scenes.
PEDRO Almodovar describes Bad Education as a very intimate
film, which had to be got out of his system before it became
While not strictly autobiographical, it was inspired by experiences
he encountered while growing up, and is a typically provocative
look at the many faces of passion, as seen through
the eyes of several protagonists.
Yet it is also a cold affair, which marks the filmmaker at his
darkest, and which struggles to present a character that can be
truly identified with, due to the moral grey area in which it
The film, while typically ambitious, is actually a film within
a film, that depicts the same story from three different perspectives.
It focuses on the relationship between two children, Ignacio
(Gael Garcià Bernal) and Enrique (Fele Martinez), as they
discover a passion for each other, for cinema and fear, in a religious
school at the start of the 60s, as well as in subsequent years.
Central to their relationship is the role played by Father Manolo
(played jointly by Daniel Giménez-Cacho and Lluis Homar),
an unsavoury priest, who also falls in love with Ignacio, and
attempts to keep him for himself.
Yet despite his attempts to separate the two boys, they eventually
meet up, once again, in the 80s, when Ignacio brings Enrique,
now a director, a script for a story called The Visit,
which recounts their childhood, while also serving as a tool for
revenge, in respect of Fr Manolo.
The revelations which ensue have far-reaching implications and
help both men to learn more about the lives and deaths of those
closest to them, taking in deception, betrayal and, eventually,
While certainly intriguing and complex, Bad Education lacks the
heart of Almodovars previous piece, Talk
To Her, serving, instead, as a disturbing and frequently unpleasant
look into the mixed-up psychology of its central characters.
The director maintains that the film is designed as a noir,
and in no way represents an attack on the Catholic church, while
also serving as the opposite of a film with good guys and villains.
He maintains that, as a director, his job is to represent them,
rather than judge them, no matter what they do, leaving his spectators
to form their own opinions of the obscure thriller
And while certainly marking a refreshing change from the bog-standard
Hollywood fare, in which everything has to be spoon-fed to audiences,
it also works as a disadvantage, in this case, but one which is
difficult to explain without giving too much away (something which
Almodovar is keen to avoid).
There are plenty of twists in the tightly wound plot, many of
which cannot be predicted, but the characters fail to connect,
emotionally, with viewers, once their motivations become clear.
Almodovar likens Bernals role in proceedings to that of
Patricia Highsmiths Tom Ripley, in that he leads all the
characters who come into contact with him to their downfall, but
as strong as Bernal is in the role, he lacks the sort of charisma
of Ripley; possibly because audiences are forced to play catch
up, rather than empathising with him.
Likewise, most of the central performers, all of whom excel,
but who appear a little too detached from any emotional connection.
Fr Manolo, especially, is genuinely chilling, but in attempting
to explain his complexity, Almodovar fails to provide
a satisfying conclusion.
Bad Education is good, from a film-makers point of view,
and is as beautifully shot and intricate as we have come to expect
from the director, but it is crucially lacking, for me, in heart,
which is a tragedy almost as big as the one which unfolds on screen.
The result is a piece of work which is impossible to ignore,
but difficult to recommend.