from Antje Wessels
July 21, 2020, 10:00 a.m.
Cory Finley’s second feature film “Bad Education” did not come to US cinemas without any support from the corona pandemic, but was commissioned by the pay TV service HBO. Now he comes to Sky.
Film facts: “Bad Education”
- Start: July 22, 2020 (Sky)
- Duration: 108 min.
- Genre: Biography / Comedy / Crime
- Camera: Lyle Vincent
- Music: Michael Abels
- Book: Mike Makowsky
- Directed by Cory Finley
- Starring: Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, Alex Wolff, Annaleigh Ashford. Ray Romano
- OT: Bad Education (USA 2019)
Director and author Cory Finley catapulted himself from zero to one hundred into the league of Hollywood’s most exciting young directors with the help of his directorial debut “Thoroughbreds” in 2018. His absolute will to style and his excellent eye for opulent canvas paintings are by no means a matter of course for a beginner. Finley also knew how to conduct his two leading actresses Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy excellently, so that in the end a thriller drama emerged that hardly anyone knows to this day, but that everyone who likes films should have seen the subtle discomfort associated with gross motor skills Prefer emotion dictation. Now such a successful debut is of course quite a burden. It is not for nothing that it is said that not the first but the second film is particularly difficult, which is why many young filmmakers stay true to their style in order to establish themselves in the business in peace.
Not so Cory Finley, who not only filmed a third-party script with his second work “Bad Education” (“Take Me” author Mike Makowsky was responsible for the screenplay, and for “Thoroughbred” he wrote himself), but also signed up directly brand new genre dares. He exchanges the thriller drama for the crime comedy and stages a donation scandal based on true events as a finger exercise for the pay broadcaster HBO that is by no means shy of the seriousness of the circumstances, but clearly emphasizes the absurdity of the premise, which will soon be seen in this country too ?? at Sky.
The dear, dear money …
Dr. Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) is the Superintendent of Roselyn High School and is very popular with students, parents and colleagues. His responsibilities include overseeing and financing urban construction projects on Long Island. When one day Rachel (Geraldine Viswanathan), the reporter for a school newspaper, wanted to report on such a project, she found inconsistencies in the issues while doing research. She quickly discovered that both Frank and his committed vice-director Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) had embezzled donations and misused them for their own purposes for many years. To see his own head out of the loop, Frank tries to turn the blame on Pam. But the more intensely Rachel deals with the case, the clearer are the indications of how much dirt Frank has on the stick?
On a visual level, “bad education” still evokes memories of “thoroughbreds”, which is somehow no wonder. After all, camera man Lyle Vincent already took over the active image design for the same film, so that you can recognize some dynamic tracking shots, but above all the focus on the faces and the rich colors from Finley’s debut. But that is the only parallel that can be drawn between “bad education” and “thoroughbred”. Otherwise, the two films run completely contrary to each other in terms of tonality, tempo and figure drawing. The focus of “Bad Education” is the equally charismatic and popular Frank, who gets along well with pretty much everyone in his environment and clearly enjoys this reputation. At his side is the no less self-confident Pam; Small scenes at the beginning of the film indicate that both of them are a well-rehearsed team, which the makers contradict in the further course when Frank stands against his trusted colleague in his own favor.
Nevertheless, the chemistry of the combination of two extroverted sympathizers, which throws each other refreshing dialogues, is right, which extends beyond their limits to the professional environment of the two. Pam regularly has the house full of guests, while Frank recognizes even high school graduates from many years ago. A stark difference compared to the cautiously interacting, environment-shy teenagers in “Thoroughbreds”.
Fast pace, lots of information
When it comes to pacing, too, “Bad Education” seems like the antithesis of Finley’s predecessor. If the filmmaker still used very lavish and often claused dialogues that were sometimes shot in one take, from which one had to specifically pick out the clues for the mental life of the two young people as well as those for the impending catastrophe in the finale, this is “bad education” now anything but subtle. And that is not to be understood negatively, but results quite naturally from the staging mechanisms of a briskly told scandal retelling, which can with a clear conscience be located in the vicinity of films such as “The Big Short”, “Vice” or “Hustlers”. You have to do without the meta-gadgets that make the first two representatives so famous in “Bad Education”, but the breathtaking pace with which Finley retells the outrageous events is always ironic? Did you really believe that you could get away with it ??? – A look at the main characters and, last but not least, the meticulous unraveling of the circumstances make “Bad Education” a feast for lovers of classic (journalist) thrillers, only without the usual heaviness and gloom.
Finley directs his film through and through as a comedy, which occasionally has a diluting effect on the dramaturgical depth. But in the end everything fits together perfectly tonally, since the New York Magazine article ?? The Bad Superintenent ?? based script maintains an overview of the individual sources of fire and sometimes only very few precise observations are required in order to capture the extent of the events in a comprehensible and ambivalent manner.
However, the staff of the school newspaper are a little neglected, and one has to bear this in mind: No large, prestigious paper once exposed this far-reaching scandal (reports like the one from New York Magazine, for example, are all based on the research of the youth reporter Rachel Bhargava), but a small, actually insignificant high school paper with “readers around the age of 15”, as editor-in-chief Nick Fleishman (Alex Wolff, “Hereditary”) once emphasized. The “The Sex Pact” actress can illustrate the successively increasing realization of her potentially scandalous research with a keen sense of reserved enthusiasm. At the same time, however, she hardly receives any character-forming scenes in which she could prove this talent.
Not so with Hugh Jackman (“Greatest Showman”) and Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”). While Jackman, as a stumbling authority figure, shows a similar, albeit not quite as torn, figure as in “The Spitzenkandidat”, the sudden loss of reputation of the really resolute Pam is both tragic and funny; simply because you can hardly imagine that she really believed that no one would notice her purchases, such as a PlayStation 4 or countless construction utensils for her own home, accounted for at company costs. Scenes like this, in which she offers her niece Jenny (Annaleigh Ashford, “Late Night”), completely callous, to pay for the expensive present for her son at company expense, are written so pointedly that you can’t get out of shaking your head or smiling .
With his second film “Bad Education”, Cory Finley succeeds in taking a clever look at human stupidity. However, never without looking down disrespectfully at his characters, but with both a wink and a feeling for the seriousness of the situation. Jackman and Janney are completely at his service.
“Bad Education” will be available on Sky Ticket from July 22nd.