Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Of priests and perverts 

Almodovar is back with his new film Bad Education, which I had the pleasure of seeing last week. A very bright and vivid film, it often goes completely over the top with its plot twists and sexual ploys, so whether or not you will like it probably depends on just how many of these you can cope with. One person came out of the cinema just behind me and said slowly and without a hint of irony 'that was the best film I've ever seen'. Meanwhile, the friend with whom I saw it thought it took itself too seriously, though she did enjoy it. Apparently the large number of drag queens and priests is pretty much par for the course with Almodovar, but this was the first film of his I've seen, and I thought it very fun.

The film begins with a successful film producer being visited by an old school friend (his first lover), with a script that details the sexual abuse performed on him by the Catholic school's headmaster. The friend tells him that the later part of the script, in which the boy, now a drag queen, goes back and exacts revenge through extortion, is fiction, but there's some sense that it bears a relation to reality, that doesn't become clear until much later.

The interplay of film within a film, and stories only half told, makes the film quite exciting (alternatively, it makes it hard to follow) and edgy in places. The cinematography is beautiful, desert Spain and silky bodies, all of which emphasises the sexuality of some of the central scenes. There are too many plot twists in a way, but I felt that this was more the director poking fun at himself than something deadly serious, and though the film is not a comedy, I felt throughout that it really was intended to be in some way lighthearted. This may be that I have a very twisted sense of fun, but other reviews do seem to bear me out.

Altogether, this is one for perverts, plot twist freaks and people with a hatred of old-school (i.e. child-abusing and corrupt) Catholicism. Recommendable.

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