Bad Education (2004)

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Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Fele Martínez, Daniel Giménez-Cacho


A film director is approached by a young actor purporting to be his childhood friend at a Catholic school. He is clutching a script loosely based on his experiences there and life since, and wants to play 'himself' in the movie.

The Review

The title sequence calls to mind a Hitchcock homage, all lacerated visuals and chopping strings, and that, after a false start that promises some sort of second chance love story, is pretty much what we get, with Franco's Spain alas little more than a MacGuffin. The customary ingredients are all there - sexual ambivalence, roleplaying at different levels, drugs, prostitution (in all but name), references to entertainers past - but the villainous priest of the fictional story turns into the pitiful blackmailee of the present, and this pathos many will recognise also as characteristic of Almodóvar's recent work. The implication that religious education was corrupt may come as a shock to some Spaniards but will shatter few illusions in other parts of the world, and it is in any case sidelined by the melodramatic central plot, and subverted by the fact that it is recollected by an embittered, transsexual junkie. A slight disappointment, then, but never less than watchable.