Bad Education (2004)

 “I sold myself for the first time that night.”

In Pedro Almodovar’s film Bad Education famous director, Enrique Goded (Fele Martinez) is looking for a new film project when he receives a visit from an old schoolmate, Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal). Ignacio and Enrique haven’t seen each other in years, but as children, they both attended a Catholic Boarding school. Ignacio came to the attention of the predatory Catholic priest, Father Manolo (Daniel Giminez Cacho) and the boys were eventually separated. Ignacio tells Enrique that he is now an actor using the name Angel, and that he has a story he wants Enrique to read. Enrique agrees to read the story, and he is astounded by its power.

The story is a revenge tale that involves two little boys in Catholic school–with one boy desperately trying to avoid the attentions of a predatory priest. Enrique is intrigued with the tale–it seems to fit in pieces of the puzzle in both his and Ignacio’s past, and he agrees to use the story as a basis of his next film. Ignacio expects to be cast in a role. The role he demands is drag queen Zahara.

Bad Education is a brilliant, complex film that weaves the past, present, truth and fiction together, but exactly what is the truth here is up for debate. When the priest from Enrique and Ignacio’s past shows up, there’s still another version of events. Almodovar plays with the idea of the roles we play in each other’s lives by blending the present with the fictional rendition of what happened to the boys. Bad Education is a puzzle within a puzzle. People can become what we want them to be through the multiple versions of events in retold stories. Ignacio/Zahara is the ultimate shape-shifter–even changing sexual identities to match his varying personas. Bad Education demands multiple viewings. DVD extras include director’s commentary, deleted scenes, and the “making of Bad Education.” In Spanish with English subtitles.

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Filed under Pedro Almodovar, Spain

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