Pedro Almodvar's Bad Education (Spain / 2004)

This is the place to talk about films from around the world.

Pedro Almodvar's Bad Education (Spain / 2004)

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Nov 03, 2006 8:58 am

[An old post]

Internal and external identity changes provide the fuel for Pedro Almodvar's Bad Education (La Mala Educacin). If in the opening sequence, an aspiring actor named Ignacio (Gael Garca Bernal), who prefers to be called ngel, clamors to play the part of a transvestite named Zahara in the film within the film which is based on his script "la visita" and chronicles the experiences he had with his friend Enrique (Fele Martnez) while at school, then at the end, Ignacio, or was it ngel, is Juan, who just happens to be Ignacios brother. But that's not all. Throughout the film, many "visits" take place between various characters, allowing one's standing in front of the other to be challenged before it's negotiated. All are driven by their own desires, and thats what puts them in danger.

Almodvar has extensively spoken about his love for "film noir," so it's not surprising to see it being employed alongside his own strengths. However, how much he truly understands the subtle textures of this genre is still an open question. For example, the walls of the apartment where his "characters" reside may not reveal much about the lives of the inhabitants, but Almodvar cant help it, and goes for the overkill, though, as usual, he doesn't forget to decorate them likes a drags face. Also, he has his "characters" catching a noir in the theater in order to kill time, who afterwards discuss the similarities between the film and their own lives. Its playful at first, but gets a little tiresome after a while. Though nothing takes away from his formal techniques: the quick cutaway of Juan (Bernal) from outside his apartment window is just as brilliantly executed as the panning shot around the swimming pool which ends with Ignacio (Bernal again) standing under water.

The film is partly set around the time of Francos suffocating regime, which allows Almodvar to compare and contrast between the before and after. If the church and the politics associated with it repressed growth, then cinema enlightened and liberated the minds. In other words, cinema is a religion itself --as it does what a religion should-- and Bad Education is out to adjudicate. But, to his credit, Almodvar doesn't simply wallow in his strong personal feelings about the abuse that many suffered through. Instead of showcasing the acts to win audience sympathy, he has focused his film on the aftermath, and how affected the lives of everyone involved became. He has a unique talent of illuminating the darkest of storylines and he has done the same here.

Gael Garca Bernal as Ignacio/Juan/Zahara is phenomenal. Most will probably get a kick out of him as Zahara, the transvestite; for me hes best as Juan, who starts out as a naivet but slowly turns the screws on Mr. Berenguer (the priest). Fele Martnez as the director (Almodvar's surrogate?) is also very good. However, the film could've done without Javier Cmara's Pequito (transvestite/ Zaharas best friend), as many of the lines are recycled from the directors previous work and dont quite apply here. While Bad Education is a lesser film than Almodvar's previous two, All About My Mother (1999) and Talk to Her (2002), it's on par with his mid-90s work, even though it's a bit more polished and carries much more of a mass-appeal.


*Available on DVD in the U.S. (Sony) / U.K. (Fox) / Spain

Re: Pedro Almodvar's Bad Education (Spain / 2004)

Postby hengcs » Sun Nov 05, 2006 2:13 pm

i used to have a long review for this ...
wondering whether it still exists anywhere ... ha ha ha
recall my mentioning of liking the "original" title ... etc

Re: Pedro Almodvar's Bad Education (Spain / 2004)

Postby wpqx » Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:52 pm

Getting to finally see this film I had my expectations somewhere in the middle. I was not going to expect any director to reach the heights of Almodovar in Talk to Her, but I saw enough positive responses to the film to certainly be intrigued. The multi-layered dimensions of the film make it arguably Almodovar's most complicated work. There are numerous parallels to Hitchcock's Vertigo, and the film within a film, within a film recalls Atom Egoyan's brilliant multi-dimensional Ararat. The acting throughout was quite good, and Almodovar's over the top seriocomic style works well here. Being familiar with his previous work you can appreciate it fairly easily, and this has some of the lighter touches that some of his earlier films shared. I most recall Law of Desire as far as his previous work is concerned.

Return to Film Talk

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest