“Bad Education” – Mathew Plale

Pedro Almodovar has torn down the “Do Not Enter” sign and replaced it with “Enter at Your Own Risk.” Bad Education is a noir about discovering yourself whilst progressing in the world around you…isn’t it?

The story’s core is shackled in the relationship between filmmaker Enrique (Fele Martinez) and childhood friend and lover Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal). The two haven’t seen one another in years, and Enrique can’t help but wonder what brings his lost amigo to his door. Ignacio has written a story based on their buried, sexual experiences at the hands of Father Manolo (Daniel Gimenez Cacho). And that is where the web of sex, lies, and super-8 begins.

Bad Education is pure homage with an unsavory hint of originality. Alberto Iglesias’ score gives a distinct reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann’s finest work, particularly on Psycho. There are subtle and blatantly lit candles to Alfred Hitchcock, with dashes of Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom. Almodovar knocks the stick over, though, in an act of overachievement.

Vertigo is the obvious inspiration for Bad Education (with Bernal as some perverse Jimmy Stewart), which also weaves narrowly in secrets and hidden motives. But Hitch knew the limits — Pedro shatters them. There, for a time in his 2004 film, is an emotional story — until Pedro’s hard left into a bizarre world filled with transsexuals, heroin addicts, and other abnormalities that would make Burroughs blush.

There might be too much shock and schlock to recognize the film as a genuine Hitchcock, but for an hour or so, I thought Almodovar would blow my mind. But Bad Education suffers from Pedro’s cockiness and excessiveness, leaving us cheated. I don’t mean to imply the film isn’t intriguing; it is, more so than, say, Hitch’s later work and nearly all of the obsessed Brian De Palma’s filmography.

There is fact and fiction; there is the movie and the reality — but what’s what and who’s who? Watching Bad Education is like spying on David Lynch making rough love to the cross-dressing ghost of Alfred Hitchcock. I’ll leave it up to you whether that’s good or bad.

Rating: ★★½☆

-Mathew Plale


Read A.J. Hakari’s Bad Education review here.

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