Bad Education (15)
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Time Out saysAlmodóvar spins a serpentine story of a sentimental miseducation through a virtuoso spectrum of hues, from the gaudiest camp to the glassiest noir. A tortuous love triangle refracted through three time-periods and myriad layers of make-believe, it's also full of autobiographical flourishes and teases, starting in 1980 with the character of a New Wave film director, Enrique Goded (Martínez), rummaging through the tabloids for inspiration. Into his office steps a young man (García Bernal) who claims to be his old school friend and first love Ignacio Rodriguéz, bearing a screenplay that riffs on their abuse and separation at the hands of the predatory Father Manolo (Giménez-Cacho) at Catholic school during the repressive '60s, and the idea of revenge wrought during the country's liberated late-'70s knees-up. Enrique is tantalised, but as he delves into his visitor and his story, he finds that the priest's seeds of perfidy have born strange and terrible fruit. Packing the homoeroticism and masquerade of his early comedies with the sleek storytelling exuberance of his recent dramas, this teeming tragedy could be taken as an index of Almodóvar ministrations: transgression, provocation, compassion and flair. It's certainly his most ambitious film to date, an ever-shifting kaleidoscope in which identity, desire and power are in permanent disarray. But for García Bernal's quicksilver lucidity through a wild variety of guises, the film would lack any focus. As it is, it's too fractured to stoke clear empathy or steer to dramatic satisfaction. But maybe that's its point: life's end is nothing to live for. Best relish the convolutions of the journey.
Fri May 21 2004
Cast and crew
Francisco Boira, Raul García Forneiro, Ignacio Pérez, Javier Cámara, Alberto Ferreiro, Petra Martínez, Roberto Hoyas, Juan Fernández Sandra, Francisco Maestre, Lluís Homar, Daniel Giménez-Cacho, Gael García Bernal, Fele Martínez, Leonor Watling