A Story Within a Script Within a Movie

A director named Enrique Goded (Fele Martinez) receives a visit from a former classmate. His name is Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal) but since he’s now an actor, he likes to be called by his stage name Angel. The visitor hands the director a script titled “The Visit.” It’s semi-based on their childhood past. The visitor leaves and the director is curious on what he’s about to read. The visitor was his first love.

Enrique reads the script…

A priest named Father Manolo (Daniel Gimenez Cacho) receives a visit from a former student. His name is Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal) but since he’s a transvestite, he goes by the stage name Zahara. He introduces herself as Ignacio’s sister. The visitor hands the priest his story he’s intending to publish. It’s semi-based on his childhood past. The priest better be curious. He molested Ignacio when he was young.

What I truly admire about Pedro Almodovar, a writing talent with the likes of Tarantino and Kauffman, is that there is some mystery to the structure of his story. Despite the discomfort of being lured into an unfamiliar movie landscape, we become curious and feel adventurous in the process. He can always make you lean closer to the screen. Be an active participant. Seduced. The unfolding of “Bad Education” is one complicated but fascinating process to watch.

Fortunately, the film’s strengths don’t stop there. Almodovar punctuate his scenes with a jolt of gasp-worthy twists and stunning revelations. “Bad Education” unabashedly flirts with taboo topics such as pedophile priests, transvestites, transsexuals, and homosexual love. Even on an intellectual level, the movie tackles on a pretty wide range of issues and themes like religion, sexuality, sense of self, and perceptions of reality. It has enough teeth to gnaw your brain long after the movie is done.

“Bad Education” features Gael Garcia Bernal of “Y Tu Mama Tambien” fame. The Mexican actor shows a daring display of versatility in different roles. When he first graces the screen in drag, the effect is shockingly wonderful because he’s surprisingly hot in a dress and rolls his pretty eyes in playful conviction. His performance in the film is an ode to actors and their craft of transformation, a theme the movie addresses.

Acting does not materialize exclusively in front of a screen or stage. Everyday we all act or pretend to either tolerate or combat reality. We all have our own fantasy of what roles we want to play. We behave a certain way. We dress a certain way. This is what we make of reality. We can transform it by transforming ourselves. From this point of view, you realize the movie’s characters are no different, as strange as they may seem.

Grade: A