LFF 2019 Review: ‘Bad Education’

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Automatik/HBO Films

LFF 2019: Bad Education is an American film appearing as a ‘Special Presentation’ at this years festival.

‘I did it for my job.’ ‘No, you did it because you wanted to look pretty.’

Bad Education features an all star cast including Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney and Ray Romano. Based on the shocking true story of the corruption and embezzlement within New York school district Roslyn.  Superintendent Frank Tassone (Jackman) struggle to maintain his status when his trusty Deputy Pam Gluckin (Janney) is caught embezzling.

Whilst award winners Jackman and Janney steal the show, young star Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers) holds her own as a high school junior Rachel. (Bad Education was acquired by HBO at TIFF, so expect to see it on a small screen next year.)  When tasked with writing a puff piece about the District’s new Skywalk, she visits Tassone’s office for a sound bite.  Egged on by Tassone in scenes eerily reminiscent of Jim McAllister and Tracey Flick in Election, Rachel delves deeper in to the cost of the development, and unearths shocking discrepancies within the departments budgets and finances.

The real Tassone and Gluckin

The film is based on the shocking true story of the now infamous Roslyn superintendent. You can read more about the true story in this New Yorker article from 2004, but beware as it will spoil many key plot points in the film. The script was written by Mike Makowsky who was attending Roslyn Middle School when the scandal broke. With this, audiences get an insight in to the different ripples caused after the initial discovery of Gluckin’s crimes. Makowsky focussed his initial research on the locals of Roslyn, which allows for some excellent scenes as the school faculty confront Gluckin and deal with the inevitable fallout of the scandal. (Eagle eyes will spot a couple of OITNB alums amongst the faces, along with the ever present Ray Romano as Faculty Head Bob Spicer.)

Don’t be tempted to read too much about the real story until after your viewing. Director Cory Finley teases out the story, little bit at a time, so the audience is able to revel in the little details and twists. The film is perfectly paced and the cast shines in every scene. A perfect mix of humour, human drama and shocking scandal, Bad Education is likely to be a hit of 2020.

Running as a ‘Special Presentation’at this year’s London Film Festival. If you can’t wait until 2020, you can find more information about the film and tickets at the BFI Website.

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