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Bad Education

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Jan
Bad Education
from Film Forum, 01/20/05

Pedro Almodóvar (Talk to Her, All About My Mother), who has never made a secret of his contempt for the Catholic church, is bashing the church again in this story of two Franco-era students who are abused by a priest in a Catholic school. But apparently there's enough bad behavior in Bad Education to make everybody look bad.

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says, "While the movie deals with the hot-button issues of priest pedophilia and homosexuality, the Iberian auteur manages to sprinkle in some of his trademark humor in exploring his touchstone themes of sin, seduction and cinema. While such unflattering portraits of ecclesiastical authority are hardly accidental, Almodovar's primary motive seems to have been to use Father Manolo's abuse of power as a catalyst for the story rather than as a weapon to target the church in general for condemnation. By dramatizing the devastating effects sexual abuse has on victims' lives, the film can hopefully … 'contribute to the church's continuing examination of conscience.' In that sense, even a Bad Education can offer an opportunity for learning."

Darrell Manson (Hollywood Jesus) says, "Gael García Bernal is brilliant in his multiple roles." He also addresses the objections that other Christian critics have to the film's negative portrayal of a Catholic priest. "The priest and the church are no more villains than any of the other characters. There are no innocents in this film. Each of the characters is in turn a victim and also a perpetrator of abuse of various kinds. Each is morally culpable for some of the evil that befalls others and themselves. Bad Education shows us how the struggle for power can bring ruin into many lives."