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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.78%
Worth A Look60%
Just Average: 13.33%
Pretty Crappy: 4.44%
Sucks: 4.44%

5 reviews, 15 user ratings

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Bad Education
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by Elaine Perrone

"Sex, Lies, and Video Cameras."
4 stars

Bad Education (La Mala educación) is a study in contrasts, a brilliantly sun-dappled film noir in which secrets and lies are hidden in plain sight. It is an intricately woven tapestry shot through with threads of truth and illusion, love and exploitation, manipulation, deception, and revenge – the details of its total picture becoming clear only when writer-director Pedro Almodóvar is good and ready to reveal them.

Likewise, Bad Education is a film that begs to be seen knowing the barest minimum of information about it. We are told early on that Ignacio and Enrique were schoolmates, each other's first love and staunchest protector against a despicable priest who abused one and banished the other. Sixteen years after the two have last been together, an actor who calls himself Ángel but introduces himself as Ignacio (Gael García Bernal) arrives at Enrique's door bearing a novel entitled "The Visit," which he proffers to Enrique (Fele Martínez), now a director and screenwriter, as a potential script for a film in which Ángel hopes to star. The book – a recollection of the boys' childhood and an exploration (partly speculative, partly factual) of the sixteen ensuing years – is a perfectly timed gift for Enrique, who has been looking for a new vehicle but hampered by a creative slump.

As the two men commence working together, the stories that unfold become far darker and more labyrinthine as secrets are exhumed, lies exposed. The tapestry’s threads that separate life and art, reality and fantasy, come increasingly more into focus with each new revelation.

Bad Education is beautifully shot and performed, particularly by Gael García Bernal, who is called upon for grueling triple duty. It is also, at times, difficult to watch, featuring graphically explicit homosexual and transsexual encounters that are often characterized roughly, with little tenderness about them. While nowhere near as accessible as the sublime Talk to Her or All About My Mother, Bad Education is a powerful moviegoing experience, must-see viewing for anyone with an appreciation for film as an art form as well as entertainment. It is also, quite obviously, one of Almodóvar's most personal works – his homage to cinema and testament to its healing powers.

In crafting his tale, Almodóvar tipped his hat to the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, James M. Cain, Audrey Hepburn, and Sara Montiel. The “passion” he alludes to at film’s end is clearly his own.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10104&reviewer=376
originally posted: 12/27/04 18:29:33
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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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