Bad Education

Bad Education ★★★½


[originally written as part of my TIFF '19 coverage]

Doesn’t really answer my big question, which was Hey is this Finley dude for real? He’s a director-for-hire here, doing a creditable but unexciting job; had he made this prior to Thoroughbreds, I wouldn’t have been particularly curious to see what came next. True story’s a doozy, though, and screenwriter Mike Makowsky fashions it into a fairly incisive portrait of self-justification, taking care to note how all of the embezzlers—but especially Jackman’s vain superintendent—think of themselves as fundamentally decent despite knowing perfectly well that they’ve done wrong. Hasty research suggests that the film exaggerates the degree to which Tassone inadvertently served as the instrument of his own downfall, but having the school reporter’s investigation be inspired by his own sincere desire to push students toward higher achievement adds nice thematic zing. Smoothly satisfying, but jury’s still out on Finley as auteur.