Bad Education is one of Almodovar's greatest films to date. Like much of his best work, it deals with themes close to his heart and connected to his own past, namely gayness and sexual abuse by priests, and of course writing itself. The story is one of his most complex, but the emotion is always greater than the complexity in itself. A note of sadness is introduced early on, and it is that which distinguishes it from previous films of comparable brilliance: they were more comic. This one has a weighty undertow, albeit highly sexed-up once Gael Garcia Bernal appears. The way Almodovar shoots him, notably in an early swimming pool scene, is mesmerising in its erotic import. Apparently Bernal had not enjoyed the shoot all that much and hasn't worked for the director since, but whatever the tensions on set, the results are amazing. He also spends much of the time in drag, which he carries off with aplomb, and looks very good. Essentially there are four main characters, as in Law Of Desire, but here three of them are played by two actors each. The film has a flashback to the childhood of the two leads early on, and the abuse of one at the hands of a priest at their school. The two boys are also involved in a pubescent romance with each other. These factors set up the lines of force for what will be a story of great power, full of unexpected twists. I can't help feeling that Fele Martinez is at the heart of the film - he gives a superb performance as a film director who is one of the two young boys in the flashback. It's difficult to discuss the plot without giving too much away, and certain aspects involving the acting out of a story called "The Visit" penned by the other boy, Ignacio, as an adult, seem to be viewed as they will be acted before the director has shot the film. What we see is no doubt in his mind's eye as he reads the text - but there are impossibilities here involving the Bernal character that are dizzying! It leads you to think that a sense of contradiction - or double meanings - is one of the film's main motifs. The soundtrack is very good, underlining the elegiac pull, and the mystery. An actor called Francisco Boira gives a haunting performance; both actors playing the abusive Fr. Manolo are memorable, the first haunted, the second bringing out the flowering of evil already present in the first, with the conscience stripped away. It really is one of the most exhilarating films for its emotional range, complex plot, daring of its premise, the erotic allure of Bernal and the moral poise of Martinez. The signature playfulness is found more in the drag act and the sets, which are full of bright colours and designs in contrast to the dark story.
This is a beautifully made film, with the dry, dusty landscape reflecting the coarse education and subsequent evolution of the two central characters. Fine performances are put in by Fele Martinez and the current darling of international cinema, the handsome Gael Garcia Bernal, who uses his elegant features to fine effect, spending much of the movie in drag. The film certainly offers up some thought provoking issues on the abuse of power, and some delicately shot scenes suggesting the young love between the two boys. However the middle section possibly concentrates too much on looking good and not enough on advancing what is a strong and engaging plot, which is unravelled rapidly at the end. Overall this is an intriguing, stylish movie which will both tug at the heart and invoke rage simultaneously, however it may be 15 minutes too long.
I have to admit I am a huge fan of Almodovar. He is known in certain circles as the Woman's Director, but the central relationship here is between two men. I don't want to go into the plot, as it is complicated, contains twists and too many characters that any explanation would spoil it. Suffice it to say, two boys become very close intimate friends in their catholic school and their story unfolds years later within the Spanish film industry. The two leads are excellently cast, especially Gael Garcia Bernal, who looks fabulous in drag. Purported to be loosely autobiographical, this film tackles some very controversial topics, particularly the abuse of young boys by catholic priests. The film manages to illustrate this subject without being too sexual or explicit. It maintains pace throughout, and never fails to twist itself into knots. To fully follow the flashback/film scenes plot, I recommend watching it twice. All in all, in my opinion, not as good as "Talk to Her", and probably not as widely appealing as "All About My Mother", but highly watchable for anyone willing to spend a while in Almodovar's world.
Fascinatingly complex nourish mystery. A film-maker is reunited with a boyhood lover, who wants to tell a dark story from their Catholic school days. But is the story true? And who's story is it really? Gael Garcia Bernal is terrific in a complicated, multi faceted role, and all the acting is very good. Gorgeously shot, with a great score.
I wish I felt more emotionally, but my mind was always completely absorbed, even if my heart stayed a little cool. Maybe that's the nature of a film where everyone is hustling and using each other.
(mild spoilers ahead)
A bit obvious and self-conscious in a few spots, and pederastic Catholic priests is a cliché the film only partially transcends (although the humanity given to the priest makes it far more interesting), and a couple of the climactic twists feel less motivated than what comes before. But worth it for the `Vertigo' like layers of reality that keep getting pulled back and forcing us to keep reassessing `good', `bad', `art' and `real.' Many critics consider this Almodovar's masterpiece - and I could see watching it a third time. This is the kind of film that grows on repeated viewings.
For me, this is the best Almodóvar film to date. The plot is complex but comes together by the end of the film and is gripping throughout (I won't go into the plot as the synopsis and other reviews can be viewed on this site). The performances from all the main characters (particularly Gael García Bernal) are stunning and the film takes the viewer through a gamut of emotions, from hilarity through poignancy and spine-chilling suspense. The film score needs to be acknowledged too: it is one of the best I've heard - somehow the composer, Alberto Iglesias, manages to fuse a Bernard Hermann (composer of much film music including 'Psycho' and 'Taxi Driver') style along with early nineteenth century ecclesiastic choral music (using a boys chorus). During the film - one of my favourite moments - there is an extract from the Kyrie from Rossini's 'Petite Messe Solennelle' - this moment is electrifying as is the music during the closing credits - don't reach for your coat, stay and listen! Not much more to say except that Almodóvar gets better and better as he matures, and this film is his best yet.
This is a supurb film with a clever twisting plot. It centres on a semi autobiographical story written by one of the characters which is being made into a movie. As the film progresses it plays out as two parallel stories, one being the fictionalised version of events, the other being the actual events. It's quite a touching story revolving around 2 boys who fall in love at school while trying to avoid the molestations of an abusive priest/teacher, and then what happens to them in later life. It involves love, betrayal, blackmail and murder. Brilliant.