I think Gael Garcia’s performance in this movie (Spanish Trailer from Youtube) has sealed the fact that I’m a big fan of his. Who else can flawlessly walk like a woman, in 6 inches heels and carry a pair of fake breasts naturally? He even looks like a woman when he portrays the character of Zahara. Bad Education is the story of two lovers and friends, Ignacio and Enrique and their growing up years in the ’60s, in a rigid Christian School and how their life changes because of their principal, Father Manolo and his child abusing activities. Father Manolo develops a strong liking for the ten year old boy Ignacio, who in turn, falls in love with his classmate, Enrique. Both the boys are separated after they’re caught in the restroom in the middle of the night by Father Manolo. Years later, after Enrique has established a name for himself as a famous director, he happens to meet Ignacio again. Or so he thinks. The movie takes lots of unexpected turns and an enjoyable ride it is.
Gael Garcia Bernal plays the character of Angel/Juan/Zahara and Fele Martinez stars as Enrique. I haven’t seen any other movie directed by Pedro Almodovar; so I really can’t comment on his direction style, but I’ve read lots of review where people are of the opinion that most of his movies have a very strong homosexual element. I love the way he handled such a delicate subject- homosexuality and child abuse- so well. Most of the scenes have been shot very tastefully and the skin show has been kept to a minimum.
Gael Garcia seamlessly shifts between the characters of Angel and Zahara. While watching the movie, there was a point when I couldn’t understand who he is! That is how confusing it gets. Is Ignacio alive? If he is, why is he behaving differently? Why does he insist on calling himself Angel? There are subtle hints throughout the movie and if you probe deeper, you’ll know the truth. For example- There is this pool scene where Enrique tries to show his affection towards Angel, but the latter shrugs him off.
There are so many other scenes that I could talk about, but I’ll have to give away the plot then, which I don’t want to do. I was mesmerized by the mask-like heads in the last scene of the movie, when Angel and Father Manolo are talking to each other. The atmosphere was literally brimming with energy.
This might very well be Gael Garcia’s best performance to date, because of the sheer range of characters that he portrays.