Bad Education

Bad Education is a 2019 American comedy-drama film directed by Cory Finley and written by Mike Makowsky, based on the New York magazine article “The Bad Superintendent” by Robert Kolker.

The film features an ensemble cast, including Hugh JackmanAllison JanneyGeraldine ViswanathanAlex WolffRafael CasalStephen SpinellaAnnaleigh Ashford and Ray Romano.

The film is set in the small Long Island town of Roslyn during the early 2000s.

It tells the story of a charismatic and esteemed Dr. Frank Tassone (Jackman) and Pam Gluckin (Janney), running Roslyn High School and the uncovering of a scam within the confines of this School.

The film is based on the true story of the largest public school embezzlement in American history.

The screenwriter, Makowsky, briefly met Tassone as a child before the scandal broke and attended Roslyn High School in the late 2000s.

The concept of this movie has been summarised in the few lines mentioned above

Considering it is based on a true life story, some of us might have heard or read of this embezzlement in the past

Let’s Attempt to figure out if Bad Education and Cory Finley deliver!

This is his 2nd Directorial Venture after the wickedly delightful Thoroughbreds

What Doesn’t Work?

  • The only snag that could put you off are the first 20 odd minutes
  • I will also decode this statement when I speak about what’s going good for this one
  • If you manage to sail past through these first few sequences, then Boy are you in for a Treat!
  • There is nothing else that is off putting about this movie

What Truly Works?

  • Cory Finley with his 2nd Directorial shows a progression par excellence
  • The technical aspects of this movie are apt and on point
  • The ruse of having next to no back ground score pays off for Finely
  • He is truly in command of the narrative
  • Not for a moment, does he spoon feed us
  • I admire the fact that we are treated as smart audiences and are left to decode tidbits of information floating around
The first 20 minutes that I spoke about earlier as a Snag is something I will dwell upon now:
  • The reason why it feels like one is because Finley cleverly keeps us confused
  • Scenes and sequences keep flowing around for no rhyme or reason
  • This keeps us from getting to the actual concept of the narrative
  • The Genre is never revealed completely, thereby leaving you to your devices
  • It’s entirely up to us to decipher: What The Hell Is Happening?
  • Herein lies the Director’s expertise of never letting us settle
  • We end up staying engrossed through the entire span of the narrative
  • The Genre, the Concept and The Reveal only happens once the 1st Half of the Movie is through
  • That’s when we get involved and truly start admiring the performances
Bad Education, 2019

The Performances?

  • As I mentioned above the moment you have clarity about the story, your focus shifts to the actors
  • The Entire Cast sparkles and shines
  • Even the Minor Characters are effervescent and add stellar support in certain sequences
  • The one’s I would like to mention here leading this repertoire are Vishwanathan, Wolff, Ashford, Dhillon, Casal and Spinella
  • Another actor I want to call out here is Ray Romano
  • He lends gravitas to some sequences, majorly the one’s where we see certain reveals taking place
Now, let’s look at the pillars holding Bad Education together:
Hugh Jackman & Allison Janney
  • Allison Janney as Pamela “Pam” Gluckin walks the tough line between her portrayal of a tough as nails lady and the frail, exposed one about to lose everything
  • She complements Jackman beautifully and almost matches steps with him in their scenes together
  • The other one here is Hugh Jackman
  • This son of a gun unloads the Days of Future Past and sheds the image that came with it
  • He slips into the skin of the character
  • No where during the movie, do we feel we are watching Jackman
  • He convinces us that we are bang in the middle of a story that talks about Frank Tassone
  • There are scenes where he is shown to be the most loved person
  • However, you also get to see sequences where you can’t understand this character any more
  • It’s almost a misdirection by Finley & Jackman
  • They don’t want us to understand who is it we are supposed to root for

The Verdict?

Bad Education truly deserves to be seen for Jackman & Janney’s wonderful performances

It also needs to be watched to comprehend that blind faith can also lead to a gross violation of trust

This one will be definitely be counted amongst Jackman’s Best Performances right up there with Logan

P.S: If you remain unaware of this true life scandal, I suggest please do not read about it before you watch this Movie


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