Bad Education Pedro Almodóvar

Bad Education Pedro Almodóvar
It's easy and maybe a little cheap to characterise complex narrative in terms of the pace of its revelations — peeling an onion, perhaps, or solving a puzzle. The latest in a long string of brilliant work from Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar (All About My Mother, Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down) is neither, but it doesn't blab all its secrets off the top either. Instead, watching this incredibly compelling film unfold is to simply watch a masterful storyteller weave magic. Its layers include two young men who attended Catholic school together; now an actor (Y Tu Mama Tambien's brilliant Gael Garcia Bernal) and director (Fele Martinez), they embark upon making a semi-fictionalised film of their childhood, the influence of a priest and the consequences as adults. At play is Bernal's role as an unreliable narrator — his version of the story isn't complete, as we come to discover. Also weaved into the tapestry is Almodóvar's own perspective; Bad Education, and its film within a film structure, has another layer as well — Almodóvar based the story, however loosely we don't know, on his own childhood experiences. So ridiculously talented a filmmaker is Almodóvar and so comfortable with his storytelling that Bad Education manages to make what could be (duh, duh, duh!) dramatic material seem like the potholes of everyday life. And particularly stunning, in three very different roles, is Bernal, who astonishes with every layer of his performance. No doubt, there are disturbing secrets revealed over the course of Bad Education, but they're not treated like a "gotcha" moment; the richness of the characterisation is what draws you back to spend more time with these people to better understand their world and motivations — and that's the difference between plot and storytelling. If you're looking for more depth, Almodóvar's commentary is your best bet; he stubbornly turns his "making of" featurette into a wordless montage. Plus: Red carpet footage, deleted scenes, photo gallery. (Columbia/Sony)