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aka - Mala Educacion, La
Spain 2005
Directed by
Pedro Almodovar
104 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Bad Education

Synopsis: Enrique (Fele Martinez) is a small-time film director who is approached by an old school friend, Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal), with a script about their childhood when they were best friends and Ignacio was sexually abused by one of their teachers. Enrique recognises many of the events from the past but as he probes into Ignacio's story he discovers that the truth is more complicated than his friend’s script allows.

Having made audiences sit up his previous films, All About My Mother (1999) and Talk To Her (2002) and take him seriously  Almodóvar returns somewhat to his earlier image-making preoccupations with Bad Education – gay sex and drug addiction, cross dressing divas and bent clerics are thrown together in a melodrama with murder and blackmail and topped with garish décor.  And yet the film is not played for high camp as were the director’s style-defining films of the 1980s. 

The approach is more sophisticated here with Almodóvar making the seriousness of his commentary on the Church’s abuse of children  very apparent whilst the use of a film-within-a-film structure and shifting time frames and multiple character points of view provide a diverting and economical way to present a complex narrative that stretches over many years.

Gael Garcia Bernal, playing three different roles delivers a splendid performance (especially as the trannie. Zahara) whilst in a much less showy role Fele Martinez is also effective. Although a step away from the dramatic heights of his previous two films, Bad Education well demonstrates Almodóvar’s skills as a post-modernist film-maker par excellence.




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