Bad Education (La Mala Educación) (Spain, director Pedro Almodóvar): I’m really having trouble coming up with things to say about this film. I’m new to Almodóvar films (Talk to Her was the first one I saw), and maybe I just don’t “get” him yet, but I must say I left this film with a vague feeling of disappointment. Outlining the plot is difficult, but it begins as a story of two childhood friends reunited in adulthood. One is a film director and the other a struggling actor who shows him a short story that he’d like to see developed into a film. It is a partially autobiographical account of the sexual abuse experienced at the strict Catholic school where both boys met. The two boys also fall in love there, and the jealousy of a priest conspires to separate them forever. To be honest, this section of the film was the most enjoyable for me. Despite the horror of abuse, it’s very discreetly implied, and the innocence of childhood love is refreshing. Unfortunately, this section, seemingly so important, only lasts about ten or fifteen minutes. The rest is a tangled telling and retelling of events that came later, when sex becomes a commodity for everyone involved. The plot is complicated by the fact that each character is being played by two or three different actors, and despite having only a handful of characters (all male, by the way), the film never really lets us get to know them or their motivations.
Despite that, it’s a cleverly constructed film, and shot beautifully. It’s hard to think that even a disappointing Almodóvar film can be better than most Hollywood product, but alas, it’s true.
Film’s Web Site: www.lamalaeducacion.com
Director’s Web Site: www.pedroalmodovar.es