Day Three: Bad Education (2019) (MotM 2021)

As it turns out, my Wednesdays off encourage me to be lazy, so I think I’ll continue that with this review. Will detail some things about what I liked/disliked, as well as some personal musings.

Bad Education comes from the director who did Thoroughbreds, a film I found excellent and among my favorite films of 2020. After watching this, I’m beginning to think this might become one of my favorite directors, as young and inexperienced as Cory Finley is. (Bad Education is his sophomore directorial credit.) He has a very poignant style with characters and getting the most of the actors employed. It was a strength in both Thoroughbreds and now this.

I imagine some people reacted this way to Thoroughbreds.

What’s interesting to me is that Allison Janney doesn’t get more work as a lead in the film field. Pretty much everything I’ve seen her in—whether this or I, Tonya or even TV sitcom Mom—she’s been generally great. Context and mood is important, obviously, but she can really, really play that stern, dominating character. She should be the next Captain Marvel—why not?

Then there’s Hugh Jackman, which, given his long career at this point, is almost a given to be fantastic. And he is, very much so. The way Bad Education plays with his character, painting him in both negative and sympathetic lights, really pulls through thanks to the emotional reach of Jackman’s portrayal. There is definitely both good and bad to him—one can debate which is stronger—yet the film goes well beyond just giving him depth. Generally treated as the one in the wrong, his reasoning, self-serving as it is, has some credence to it. Reminds me somewhat of the male lead in Colette, only not immensely sexist.

Look at that expectant stare and shiver.

Fluctuation in mood and blame is another thing I really enjoyed watching this, also similarly to Thoroughbreds. Watching everything unravel was all the more entertaining due to slow unfurling of people’s pasts, which continued to creep out until the very end. While generally not as dark as Finley’s former film, this has a nice prestige to it that could make it thoroughly solid for both the artsy-fartsy crowd and the normie consumers.

Hell… I feel like I’m vaguely going over various aspects without any cohesion. Guess that’s what happens when I type this up while lazy. If one gets anything out of this, know that I think it’s also excellent. Fantastic performances, a sturdy, yet volatile story, and a great emphasis on character complexity. Maybe not as unique as Thoroughbreds, but one that checks all the boxes as splendidly as a based-on-a-true-story crime-drama can.

Final Score: 8/10

The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

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