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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a dark and tawdry film. Main characters are junkies, pedophiles, and murderers. The film deals with molestation within the Catholic Church, and all in all presents the church in a negative light. Parents should also be note that the film centers around the life of a molested boy turned junkie transsexual. It includes scenes of graphic gay sex and vulgar language. It's not appropriate for anyone under 17. (Note: This film is in Spanish with English subtitles.)
What's the story?
Interweaving a priest's betrayal and a brother's secret with a tragic story of lost youth, BAD EDUCATION presents a complex story within a story (within a story). Spanish filmmaker Enrico Goded (Fele Martínez) finds himself stumped while searching for his next film subject. When a man calling himself Ignacio Ramirez (Gael García Bernal)--Goded's first love and the boyhood victim of a lascivious priest -- walks back into his life, fact, fiction, greed, lust, and art collide. Goded begrudgingly agrees to produce, direct, and adapt Ignacio's short story chronicling the boys' early love and the author's abuse at the hands of Father Manolo (Daniel Giménez Cacho). In the meantime, he must contend with a stream of secrets held by the man calling himself "Ignacio." Ultimately, Bad Education is a tale of love, lust, abuse, deceit, and the ambiguous role of art -- confessional, weapon, or opportunity.
Is it any good?
This excellent but weighty quasi-autobiographical film follows on the heels of Pedro Almodóvar's 1999 Academy Award winning film All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre). The director spent ten years working on Bad Education. While loosely based on his youth in a Catholic boarding school, Almodóvar says he spent years reworking the story to distance it from his own life. (The filmmaker acknowledges a childhood fear of priests, but says he suffered no sexual abuse.) All in all, he created a gorgeous film that beautifully weaves in and out of past and present and fact and fiction, often creating momentary vagaries of time and space.
Because this film deals with adult themes that are inappropriate for kids, parents are better off sharing this with mature older teens only.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about issues such as the pressures of small town living, the torture of keeping secrets, honesty, and tolerance. The bad behavior of the film's characters can produce much conversation. The film can also spark conversations about art. How can art -- writing or filmmaking -- function therapeutically? Also, how would this story have been different if set in the United States?