Directed by Pedro Almodóvar.
Written by Pedro Almodóvar.
Starring Gael García Bernal, Fele Martínez, Daniel Giménez Cacho
and Lluís Homar.
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 3/16/05
My friend Liz and I went to check out "Bad
Education" recently at the local art house; from the word go,
director Pedro Almodóvar gives you some of the most incredible
imagery he's ever put on film...which is saying a lot, especially if
you've seen that, ahem, larger-than-life crotch shot from
"Talk to Her."
From the vivid colors, to the dark themes,
to the homoerotic tones and the sneers of a vile transvestite, "Bad
Education" doesn't make you walk out of the theater saying "Man, was
THAT boring." Gael García Bernal--yep, it's him again!--plays
Ignacio, a local actor who comes through town in 1980 to meet up
with childhood friend Enrique (Fele Martínez), now a big-time film
director and someone that is looking for his next shipment of
creative juices when Ignacio walks in the door. Ignacio, a
former writer, has penned his first screenplay called "The Visit"
and wants his buddy Enrique to read it, hoping that Enrique will
direct the film and ask Ignacio to be the lead.
"The Visit", the film within the film as it
turns out, is mostly what "Bad Education" concerns itself with--the
youth and teenage years of Ignacio and Enrique growing up gay.
Or, somewhat gay. Or, maybe just "tranny." Or maybe none
of that. "Bad Education" spends a good bit of its time just
confusing you, but even in the confusion, the filmmaking is great
work; the storytelling is good even if you don't exactly know what's
going on, or going to happen for that matter. This is thanks
to a fantastic performance--talk about a broken record; has the guy
ever been bad?--by Bernal, a Mexican who had to convince Almodóvar
that he could play a Spaniard before he even got the part but turns
in maybe his best work, playing the is-he-or-isn't-he Ignacio (also
known as Juan, Angel and Zahara over the course of the film; it does
get confusing fast) with a sly wit and an alluring way with the
fellas throughout. I can't even imagine how hard it must have
been to shoot some of the scenes in "Bad Education"; when you see
it, you'll know what I mean.
But, all of the characters in this film are
vivid works of art within themselves; Martínez is preening a bit as
the still-in-love film director...Daniel Giménez Cacho is
super-intense as the priest of Ignacio's first church...and some
other familiar faces like Javier Cámara (who also appeared in "Talk
to Her") give weight to otherwise small parts. The music is
over-the-top, but it works; the pacing is mostly strong, and there
are some decent laughs sprinkled throughout as well.
The film's plot did confuse me for a little
while, but I think that some stretches where nothing is really
happening in terms of advancing the story took away from the overall
experience as well. Also, I wasn't as interested in the
relationship with the priest and Ignacio as I was in the
Ignacio/Enrique relationship; small beef, I know, but I wanted to
explore that a little bit more and the filmmakers went a different
route. But, overall--good times. Almodóvar never seems
to make a bad one...and, "Bad Education" is no exception.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard