A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
I've just thrown out the first 500 words of my review and am starting again with a sense of joy and release. I was attempting to describe the plot of "Bad Education." It was quicksand, and I was sinking fast. You and I have less than 1,000 words to spend together discussing this fascinating film, and not only would the plot take up half of that, but if I were by some miracle to succeed in making it clear, that would only diminish your pleasure.
This is a movie we are intended to wander around in. It begins in the present with a story about the past, presents that story as a film within the film, and then, if I am not mistaken, there is a paradoxical moment when the two categories leak into each other. It's like "Citizen Kane," where the memories of one character curiously contain the memories of another.
So there's 153 words right there, and my guess is, you're thinking the hell with it, just tell us what it's about and if it's any good. Your instincts are sound. Pedro Almodovar's new movie is like an ingenious toy that is a joy to behold, until you take it apart to see what makes it work, and then it never works again. While you're watching it, you don't realize how confused you are, because it either makes sense from moment to moment or, when it doesn't, you're distracted by the sex. Life is like that.
The story, which I will not describe, involves a young movie director named Enrique (Fele Martinez) who is visited one day by Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal). Ignacio has written a story he wants Enrique to read. Enrique would ordinarily not be interested, but he learns that his visitor is the Ignacio – the boy who was his first adolescent love, back in school, and that the story is set in their school days and involves Ignacio being sexually abused by a priest at the school. Indeed, he permitted the abuse in order to get Enrique out of some trouble: "I sold myself for the first time that night in the sacristy."