Bad Education (Corin Finley, 2019)
Although its title is far from being creative -- there's an Almodóvar feature and a TV series -- , Bad Education 2019 is a fascinating story to dive into. Long Island school superintendent Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) and his assistant superintendent for business, Pam Gluckin (Academy Award winner Allison Janney), are credited with bringing Roslyn School District unprecedented prestige. The couple seems to know what they're doing, spending hours studying ways to please the community members, memorising each one's lifetime event, until one day a wannabe investigative journalist, Rachel Kellog, uncovers a financial crime in the school.
Based on a true story written by an insider, as screenwriter Mike Makowsky was on the 7th grade when the scandal happened, the plot raises some moral issues. Both Frank Tassone and Pam Gluckin have ambiguous moral qualities and both of them are confronted by the young Rachel, who's, in essence, a truthteller. She hesitates when she slowly gets to the core of the problem and asks her father's advice (played by Holby City doctor Hari Dhillon). Driven by his own experience, he mumbles that silence gives consent.
Hugh Jackman is absolutely perfect as Tassone, and here he didn't have to sing, dance or pose like a superhero. In my imagination, the role would be more suitable for Kevin Spacey. If only another scandal hadn't interrupted his career...
My cast association, though, is not by chance. Likewise Spacey in real life, Tassone took years to get out of the closet, and they only did after a moral scandal was revealed. Their carefully constructed façade and charisma were suddenly destroyed, leading to an almost unavoidable connection between homosexuality and dishonesty. This generalisation is very dangerous.
Frank Tassone is our villain. He is a terrible human being. But so are Pam and every single school staff members that took part in the stealing of 10 million dollars from the town's taxpayers. But because no one else is gay, it looks easier to forgive them than to forgive Frank.
Bad Education premieres during London Film Festival, that starts tomorrow. Follow our reviews and interviews to get the best of it.