As you do as a film fan in 2020, you make your way to any platform that offers a new release to watch since options are becoming more and more limited. Bad Education happened to make its way to HBO from Toronto International Film Festival and you kind of get why that is the case. These types of mid-budget dramas are an increasingly more usual sight on the streaming sites but the acting talent present does make you wish to have seen it in a theatre. Led by a ferocious leading showcase from the talented Hugh Jackman and a perceptive script from Mike Makowsky, the film keeps you enthralled despite the lower level of drama we’re used to in the crime genre.
The whole runtime is filled with captivating demonstrations by the cast as no space is left untravelled in close quarters. Jackman especially gets several chances to shine as Frank Tassone like the tender moments with Kyle (Rafael Casal), teaching scenes with a student’s mom and when challenging the young student, Rachel (Geraldine Viswanathan). You could pick out many names from the cast but Viswanathan and Ray Romano (as Bob) might as well get a shout out from me. Viswanathan’s Rachel is eventually the person who is leading the audience along for the ride and even when apparently fictionalised for the plot, it still works.
Makowsky’s script doesn’t reveal its cards until about halfway into the movie which keeps the perspective changes interesting during the first half. With every location it shows a little bit about Tassone’s personality but the script doesn’t just scream it at you, instead you as a viewer are trusted to figure it out. Director Cory Finley and editor Louise Ford clearly picked up on this in the editing room as the conversations and blocking have a natural rhythm in them. Bad Education comes out as a very enjoyable drama but you do feel at the end that it didn’t fulfil the potential of the corruption and selfishness to make things a bit more nail-biting.
Smileys: Hugh Jackman, screenplay, Geraldine Viswanathan, editing
Jackman is giving here a performance that surely places him in the Oscar talk.