Bad Education is risky film-making at its craftiest, a tightrope of innuendo, gay sex, murder, cinema, narrative, et all. Sounds like it might be pretentious, but it isn't. Almodovar's film folds into its storytelling like its the only way to go, stylistically and consciously, as if the only way to experience this is to find out where truth blends with fiction, and reverberates back again. Is the real thing as involving and melodramatic as the truth? Almodovar- contrary to what the Village Voice critic said- wisely only hints at the rampant pedophilia on hand, all we really get is that one suggestive moment with the priest and the boy as he tumbles out and cracks his head. Everything else is implied, but with such an emphasis on what more than likely happened that all we need is suggestion- anything more would be exploitive of a much larger issue than Almodovar wants to get into.
What Bad Education gets into then at its best is desire, and the paranoia surrounding desire, as well as revenge, and lustful abandon. One can find this in Hitchcock, but it's also found in the steamiest of film-noir. Appropriate then that for almost half of his screen time star Gael Garcia Bernal is in drag, practically as a femme fatale, named Zahara. Of course, she is only a fictional construct, though based on emotions and settings loosely based on true events for the character Ignacio (or is it Juan...wait, said too much, though he now wants to be called Angel),who visits his friend, Enrique, from back in Catholic school. There's a story he wants to give to his friend, soon a film deal is made, despite shady history surrounding the death of Angel's brother. Then comes the priest- no longer a priest of course- and then the story goes deeper, with what the real truth is, and while it contains the same level of heart from the characters, it's all the same melodramatic.
As well as the melodrama, Almodovar loves it as lurid and classy as possible (not to mention gay, of course, which Almodovar embraces to the point where the sex scenes carry an eroticism all their own, in spite of the NC-17 usually with only just enough shown to get the idea). But it may also be one of Almodovar's most disturbing pictures, and as it grows darker and more fatalistic in its last third one knows how deep the fissure is in the crime of passion at hand. But Almodovar, save for the experimental storytelling, like paperback novel style Citizen Kane, there's not a whole lot of messing around technical-wise, which is just fine for the actors (especially Bernal) to show off their amazing dramatic skills. What he does strive for, which he nearly gets as a great film, is the sensibility of cinema, the intoxicating power of a story told through conflict and danger, crime and (lack thereof) punishment. Hence the scene where the two boys sneak into the movie-house and the 'act' that they commit. Is it as obvious as it looks, or is there a quality to what they're watching- an old movie with Sara Montiel- that has them riled up? And what about the aspect-ratio change when going between The Visit and the 'main' narrative?
Almodovar's Bad Education is certainly not for the squeamish, and leaves a feeling that everything is left darker for a purpose. By the end no police have been involved, and everything unfolds as torrid love affairs gone awry. It's also appropriate then in The Visit that Zahara blackmails to send the story to Diario 16 on TV. The difference between this and a telanovela is simple: a telanovela would take this material as the pinnacle of camp and trash; Almodovar embraces it, enriches it, makes campy pulp into a strange art. One of the best Spanish films of the past several years.
In the early 60s, two boys - Ignacio and Enrique - discover love, movies and fear in a Christian school. Father Manolo, the school principal and Literature teacher, both witnesses and takes part in these discoveries. The three characters come against one another twice again, in the late 70s and in 1980. These meetings are set to change the life and death of some of them.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN