Review: Bad Education

Bad Education (or La Mala Educación) is Almodovar’s masterpiece. It is also one of his most personal films, because elements within the film are autobiographical in nature. This film is told in a noirish fragmented narrative structure that will demand your attention throughout.

When Enrique and Ignacio fall in love with one another at a Catholic school, the two boys are forced apart when the pedophilic priest has Enrique expelled, in order to continue his sexual abuse of Ignacio.

Years later, Enrique is now a successful filmmaker who is looking for a new project. One day, a man claiming to be Ignacio shows up at his door with a screenplay entitled The Visit. He says that the screenplay is partly based on their childhood, and it contains a supposedly fictional sub-plot in which the character based on Ignacio blackmails the priest for a million dollars. Enrique decides to take on the project, but suspicions are aroused when circumstances cause him to doubt whether the man claiming to be Ignacio is really who he says he is. From here on, the film becomes a mystery, all the while going back to the “film within a film”, entitled The Visit.

Bad Education is a tragedy. It deals with the consequences of abuse, both physical and emotional – and how the victims carry the burden of that abuse for the rest of their lives. It is a tale of innocence lost, never to return. It is not an easy film to watch, nor should it be. The realities presented within are not sugar coated for the audience. There is much truth to be found here, as well as pain and sorrow. A few moments moved me to tears. It is unlike anything that Almodovar has created, and stands out as a gem in his filmography.

The acting and direction are amazing. Gael Garcia Bernal delivers an Oscar worthy performance as Ignacio/Angel/Juan. Fele Martinez is equally impressive as Enrique, and effectively conveys the emotions that his character experiences. Almodovar proves once again that he is a master of the medium. The music from Alberto Iglesias is particularly memorable, at times recalling the film scores of Bernard Herrmann.

Bad Education is highly recommended.

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