Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman), as supervisor of the Roslyn School District was able to bring Roslyn High School to the fourth place nationally, which increased property prices on Long Island, because parents flocked to send their sons and daughters there for the sake of opening the way to be accepted in the university ranks Ivy League. Frank was also an expert at motivating students, memorizing the names and classes they took, and also remembered that one of the students was the younger brother of an alumni. Frank always wears a classy suit, his hair is neat, his face is beautiful thanks to various treatments including plastic surgery.
Everything looks perfect for Frank and his environment. But it reminds us of several things: a) Nothing is perfect; b) Excessive ambition for perfection often results in disaster; c) There are always two sides to the coin. Top Movie Site
As a supervisor, Frank gets help from his assistant, Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney in another superior appearance), who is in charge of finance. It didn’t take long until Pam’s soul was revealed to be abusing that authority. He has a lot of luxury properties, and often goes on expensive vacations with family, even though he only gets what Frank calls “glorified teacher’s salary”.
Yes, Pam uses school fees for personal gain, then manipulates financial reports, which explain why the roof of the building always leaks even though the proposed maintenance costs are very high. Until a stupid mistake from his son, which Pam asked to renovate the house, provoked directors’ suspicion. They report to Frank.
Frank the impeccable supervisor. Frank, who looks good. Frank, who cared so much about his students, whether they were still in school or graduating. The face of the board of directors believes it. Hearing Pam’s actions, Frank was surprised. But really he did not know?
From here, the manuscript (adaptation of Robert Kolker’s The Bad Superintendent article), written by Mike Makowsky as Frank’s former student in the real world and living witness to the scandal, cleverly plays with his narrative choices. Because it is based on real events, it’s not spoiler if I mention Frank isn’t as holy as he seems. And I’m sure many viewers have already kissed the signal based on some subtle clues that the film is planting. Making Frank innocent at the beginning of the story was the right decision. When the truth is finally revealed, it does not function as a twist that will surprise the audience, but builds a dramatic nuance in the turning point of the story. Best Movie
That’s when the superintendent’s warm smile began to evolve into a pretty sinister grin. The charisma of the smile becomes intimidation, when Jackman, in one of the best performances of his career, presents rich acting in which both sides of Frank’s opposite can be presented as strong.
But how could Frank, with all his ingenuity, be able to reveal his crime? Do you remember in the first paragraph I mentioned about a student Frank recognized as the younger brother of his former student? His name is Rachel Bhargava (Geraldine Viswanathan). He is a member of a journalistic extracurricular club, who is assigned to write articles about building air bridges in schools. Rachel interviewed Frank, asking the supervisor to give a short comment. As usual, Frank tried to motivate his students. She encouraged Rachel to dig deeper into her story. Ironically, the urge dug Frank’s own grave.
Bad Education is indeed filled with irony and a sense of tragedy, which is also represented by Michael Abels (Get Out, Us) scoring, which occasionally implies a haunting impending doom, while at other times it sounds like the dramatic collapse of a cheating scheme. When Rachel submitted the first draft that highlighted the overcharging of the air bridge project, her writing was rejected by the club chairman, who then replaced the article framing to the enthusiasm of students welcoming the project. Often the image is more important than the truth. This is the result of the commercialization of education, both for the sake of thickening one’s personal pocket or prestige, which ends up destroying the essence of education itself.
Cory Finley as the director was able to bring Bad Education to move in a comfortable pace enjoyed, with the accuracy of the degree of dramatization. The success of handling true story-based films with a cereal approach might be an achievement for filmmakers who take their names through black comedies such as Thoroughbreds (2017), proving the extent of Finley’s reach in the work. Movie Review
But like me, maybe you will feel there is a lack of seasoning in this film. Bad Education takes a middle ground, intending to balance the elements of investigation (especially the message about how a small investigation in the form of a student newspaper is able to uncover a big scandal that is horrendous to the country), with a focus on Frank’s personal side. Unfortunately, none has reached their full potential. The intensity of the investigation failed to peak, it also seemed ambiguous whether we were invited to sympathize with Frank, to curse, or both. Bad Education has never been completely clear. Pure treat dramatic, or dark comedy (although there are efforts to target the second form).