Reviewed by: Dr. Jim O’Neill
|Featuring||Gael Garcia Bernal, Fele Martinez, Leonor Watling, Francisco Boira, Lluis Homar|
|Producer||Agustin Almodovar, Pedro Almodóvar|
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Classics|
Article on sexual abuse of children
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What should be the attitude of the church toward homosexuals and homosexuality? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
Pedro Almodovar’s “Bad Education” begins with a title sequence reminiscent of the title sequence of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film, “Psycho.” But it’s there that the similarities between the two films end. Despite the vibrant comic-book colors (cherry red Venetian blinds in a room with banana yellow walls—yikes!), and the perfect performances by actors with model-perfect faces, Almodovar’s movie lacks the clarity and directness of Hitchcock’s black and white classic.
Both films deal with the effects of sin. Hitchcock goes to the heart of the matter; Almodovar dances around it. That is why the first film haunts me even today, and why the second one, while it held my interest for awhile, didn’t move me.
Hitchcock understood and conveyed how sin can lead to more sin, and eventually to violence, corruption and death. He also understood that evil often masqueraded as a gentleman with a warm and welcoming face. Almodovar conveys the allure of evil—an undisguised homoeroticism that is on view in all of his movies and comes front and center here—but he has a hard time portraying its effects and its costs.
There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about officials calling evil a “nuisance.” A nuisance is how Almodovar seems to look at the concept. He lacks the will to face it, the courage to call it what it is, and the resolve to condemn it. He certainly doesn’t let his handsome characters pay a price for it.
The film takes place in Madrid and in other parts of Northern Spain around 1980 (Franco, Spain’s long reigning dictator has been dead just a short time, and Spain is enjoying new political and cultural freedoms). It is the story of two boarding school boys who reunite after they grow up. Ignazio (Gael Garcia Bernal—“The Motorcycle Diaries”) is an actor and screenwriter, and Enrique (Fele Martinez) is a director (I’ve mixed the identities up a bit here in order not to give too much of the plot, which involves some identity changes, away).
Ignazio has written a screenplay which he wants to star in and have Enrique direct. The film would deal with the traumatic experiences and the effects of their education in a Catholic boarding school while under the tutelage of a sexually abusive priest, Father Manolo (Daniel Gimenez-Cacho).
After school, the boys’ lives take many turns. One or the other becomes involved in homosexuality, transvestitism, drug addiction, blackmail, identity theft, murder, even fratricide. The mayhem and the mix-ups get confusing, but eventually things clear up in time to let the viewer ponder a shocking crime.
Unfortunately, by then, it’s too late. The suspense has been watered down because there’s not enough clarity in the story. It’s too muddled to evoke true horror. I was only left with a sense of disillusionment.
When Paul wrote to the Romans he spoke about what could happen to a people when they turned from God, and from the plain truths He has shown them…”They become futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.”
The characters in “Bad Education” wade through streams of bright colors and lofty torch songs and lush Galician landscapes, but underneath those cool waters is a dark and murky bottom. Almodovar shows us the surface currents, but he avoids the depths, and the plain truth about the human soul.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Extreme