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5 reviews, 15 user ratings

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Bad Education
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by Dr Nick

"He’s a she, he’s her, is she him?, who’s dead?"
4 stars

Another film about sex, lust and revenge from Pedro Almodovar. Bad Education is a moving portrayal of a young man’s life, from being an abused child to adult transvestite heroin addict. Beautifully shot, with excellent performances throughout, this is one of Almodovar’s most accessible films yet.

Pedro Almodovar latest effort is another venture into the darker territories of human sexuality. Sex, lust, and greed are familiar themes in the Spaniard’s films, which recently seem to be getting more and more accessible. I must say, I have never been a huge fan of his films, perhaps because I’ve never been able to relate to his characters and the situations they find themselves in. But, Bad Education grabbed me and kept my attention for the duration of the film, which is not too common these days.

Ignicio, a transvestite heroin addict, tries to blackmail the priest who abused him as a child into giving him a million pesetas. His younger brother Juan and the priest fall in love and decide to kill Ignicio, as his behaviour has begun to take its toll on everybody around him, including the brothers’ mother. They buy dodgy heroin for him and he OD’s. When Juan returns home to his mother he discovers all the stories Ignicio has written throughout his life. He falls in love with his brother’s childhood love, Enrique, and decides to adapt his dead brother’s persona in order to find this man, now a famous film director. He writes a fictional ending to his brother’s life story, “la visita” and takes the story to Enrique in order to get it made for the big screen. Enrique doesn’t trust Juan completely at first, but slowly they warm to each other and the film finally goes into production. However, the priest from Ignicio’s childhood also wants a final say in how the story ends.

That’s the film's basic story, if you break it down in a linear fashion, but the way it unfolds on screen is far more complicated. Almodovar skilfully mixes past and present with fictional past and present and is teasing the audience with hints and clues throughout the film. Never giving away too much, he manages to keep his secrets secret until the right time has come for us to find out.

As always, Gael Garcia Bernal is excellent. He handles his multiple personas extremely well and is utterly convincing both as Juan as well as the fictional Ignicio/Zahara. The other performances are just as good, including the children playing Ignicio and Enrique’s younger selves.

In the past, even if I haven’t enjoyed Almodovar’s films, I’ve always appreciated their technical qualities. Again, Bad Education is a beautifully crafted film. With brilliant cinematography, the film has an extremely warm look, with strong, vibrant colours. And what about the narrative structure? Non-linear plots are quite popular these days, and can be very powerful if used well. It is also a technique, which can easily be overdone. Here it's used perfectly, allowing Almodovar to withhold and release information at just the right times. You need to pay attention however, or chances are that you might get lost in the mix. It's always nice to see films that demand this attention from the audience. Take your bathroom break at the wrong time and you might end up hopelessly lost. Stay focused for the duration of the film and it’s all very rewarding, with much room for discussions afterwards.

So another brave, honest and intelligent film from Almodovar. If it's him who has changed or if it's me, I really don't know. But, Bad Education is the first of his films that I've thoroughly enjoyed. Maybe I'll even give the others another shot.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10104&reviewer=345
originally posted: 06/15/04 06:42:08
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 New York Film Festival. For more in the 2004 New York Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/07/05 Agent Sands It has everything you look for in a movie that would never make it into an American one. 4 stars
5/16/05 tatum Almodovar meets Hitchcock; this should never have been NC17 4 stars
4/11/05 jcjs fine 5 stars
3/29/05 John Bale Bucket full of slease, disappointing from such a good Director 1 stars
3/24/05 Richard Pryor bernal rules!!!! 5 stars
3/15/05 Helen Bradley confusing script good photography 2 stars
2/27/05 Marce The plot is somewhat predictable. It is the performances that make this movie awesome! 5 stars
2/19/05 TIna Artistic erotic expression detailed with a thick plot noir 5 stars
1/02/05 Julie Wenders A highly engaging, multilayered performance by actors! Another piece of brilliant art! 5 stars
12/29/04 JM I walked out after 40 minutes 2 stars
12/04/04 maria Gran pelicula,como todas las de Almodovar, buenas actuaciones... 5 stars
9/19/04 denny after the awesome "talk to her" i was some what disappointed: too high expectations? 4 stars
8/23/04 Richelle Beautifully shot, Bernal is brilliant. 5 stars
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  19-Nov-2004 (NC-17)
  DVD: 12-Apr-2005



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