Bad Education: BRWC LFF Review.
Having first burst onto the scene in 2017 with the astonishingly brilliant Thoroughbreds, Cory Finley’s sophomore picture is a real-life tale of a school embezzlement scandal that took place in the early 2000s.
Bad Education is, as one might expect, a whip-smart black comedy, tackling dark themes in a satirical and often highly cynical fashion. Unlike Thoroughbreds, Finley is not the writer here, although it’s fascinating to see that Mike Makowsky penned the script, having attended the school himself at the time of the scandal. His keen, observational eye is present on the screen, with the story meticulously playing out in a manner that always feels natural.
Finley has a real knack for visual storytelling; his willingness to make even the most mundane of conversations as enticing as possible really helping to bring the story to life. A less inventive filmmaker may have wound up with a fairly forgettable production, but Finley admirably wants his films to be memorable for his audiences, finding entertainment value in the most genuinely distressing situations. This talent is present in both of his features, and there’s no question of an intrigue around what he might do next. Thoroughbreds and Bad Education are, if nothing else, films from an artist with a unique perspective on the world.
Hugh Jackman is on top-form here, with one of the strongest performances of his career as Frank Tassone, a fascinating and multi-layered protagonist, while the supporting cast add to the film’s energy and drive, with Allison Janney and Geraldine Viswanathan in particular producing stellar work here.
Ironically, Bad Education is one big lesson; a study in self-preservation, and how the world really works. It’s as infuriating as it should be, but a lesson that feels arguably more potent now than ever, and Finley’s approach is snarky, intelligent and wickedly funny.
The film’s themes, while socially relevant, are not quite as interesting or refreshing as in Finley’s masterful debut, so it sadly lacks the same qualities that made Thoroughbreds so special and unique, but it’s just clever and entertaining enough to work. Bad Education is an extremely witty and well-constructed, razor-sharp black comedy, and a strong reminder of just how good an actor Jackman can be in the right role.
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