Bad Education – Director, Cory Finley

I was attracted to this film by Hugh Jackman in a non superhero role and in part by the story. The film dramatizes an ugly event in the public education system in New York. Based on a real story it chronicles the years long embezzlement of funds by senior administrators and how easily they are able to do it and cover it up because of their senior positions and the academic success they brought to the schools over which they had authority and the communities in which those schools existed. Jackman is superb as the evil administrator who is manipulative and greedy. (I really liked him last year as Gary Hart in The Front Runner and he does even better here.) What jackman’s character does not anticipate is a young student with ambitions to become a journalist who slowly but inevitably exposes the crimes. The remarkable thing is that the exposé is first published in the student newspaper and only after that picked up by major media like the New York Times. Jackman and his accomplices in crime are arrested and convicted. End of story. The interpersonal aspects include the fact that Jackman’s character is gay and, in the closet, although he has been living with his partner for 30 years. In the course of the film and completely unrelated to his crimes he starts an affair with a young man in Las Vegas that he eventually tries to join when the embezzlement scheme starts to collapse around him. In the end we have a great acting performance that left me thinking so what? There did not seem to be any point to this film other than to dramatize a crime and the ending was literally pointless. Even the affair with the guy in Vegas was irrelevant. I think the film would have been far far better if the focus had been on the young student who brought the crimes to light and the impact her work had on her but that all seems a sidelight to the story. So unless you are a huge Jackman fan you can give this film a miss.

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