Combustible Celluloid
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With: Gael Garcia Bernal, Fele Martinez, Javier Camara, Daniel Gimenez-Cacho
Written by: Pedro Almodóvar
Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
MPAA Rating: NC-17 for a scene of explicit sexual content
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Running Time: 109
Date: 03/19/2004

Bad Education (2004)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Pupil Watching

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Pedro Almodóvar just keeps improving, even on films as goodas All About My Mother and Talkto Her. Bad Education pulls a structural triple-somersault, leaving itnearly impossible to describe, even if it makes perfect sense while watching.In flashback we meet two young boys in Catholic school. They feel the beginningpangs of love, which are abruptly cut short because a priest already has athing going with one of the boys, Ignacio. Years later, in 1980, Ignacio showsup in the office of the other boy, Enrique (Fele Martinez) now grown up anddirecting films. Ignacio has become an actor and is interested in working withEnrique. Only he's not Ignacio. It's Ignacio's brother Juan (Gael GarciaBernal) impersonating him. Later, while Enrique is filming a fictitious versionof this very story, the real priest (Daniel Gimenez-Cacho) shows up and tellshis version of events, which further casts new light. That Almodovar keepseverything straight during the course of the film is further proof of hisdelightful talent. Bad Educationhas the director's usual seriocomic voice, perfectly balancing a tender lovestory with curdling tragedy using only the slightest touch. But it goes deeperthis time. It's more refined and personal, though Almodovar has insisted thatthe film is not autobiographical. If nothing else, Bernal makes the moststunningly gorgeous drag queen in the history of movies, and more than makes upfor appearing in the gutless The Motorcycle Diaries.

See also: Bad Education on Region 2 DVD.

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