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Bad Education (film)

This article is about the Spanish drama film La mala educación. For the BBC Three television series starring Jack Whitehall, see Bad Education (TV series).

Bad Education
File:La mala educacion film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Produced by Pedro Almodóvar
Agustín Almodóvar
Esther García
Written by Pedro Almodóvar
Starring Gael García Bernal
Fele Martinez
Daniel Giménez Cacho
Javier Cámara
Petra Martínez
Leonor Watling
Music by Alberto Iglesias
Cinematography Jose Luis Alcaine
Edited by José Salcedo
Distributed by Warner Sogefilms (Spain)
Sony Pictures Classics
Pathé International (France)
Release dates
  • 19 March 2004 (2004-03-19)
Running time
105 minutes
Country Spain
Language Spanish
Budget $5 million[1]
Box office $40,273,930[2]

Bad Education (Spanish: La mala educación) is a 2004 Spanish drama film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Starring Gael García Bernal, Fele Martínez, Daniel Giménez Cacho and Lluís Homar, the film focuses on two reunited childhood friends and lovers caught up in a stylised murder mystery. Along with metafiction, sexual abuse by Catholic priests, transsexuality and drug use are also important themes and devices in the plot, which led the MPAA to give the film an NC-17 rating.

The film was released on 19 March 2004 in Spain and 10 September 2004 in Mexico. It was also screened at many international film festivals such as Cannes, New York, Moscow and Toronto before its US release on November 19, 2004.

The film received excellent reviews, and was seen as a return to Almodovar's dark stage, placing it alongside films such as Matador (1986) and Law of Desire (1987).


In Madrid in 1980, Enrique Goded, a young film director, is looking for his next project when he receives the unexpected visit of an actor looking for work. The actor claims to be Enrique's boarding school friend and first love, Ignacio Rodriguez. Ignacio, who is using now the name Ángel Andrade, has brought with him a short story titled "The Visit" hoping that Enrique would be interested in making a film out of it giving him the starring role. Enrique is intrigued since "The Visit" described their time together at the Catholic school and it also includes a fictionalized account of their reunion many years later as adults.

"The Visit" is set in 1977. It tells the story of a drag artist and transsexual called Zahara, whose name at birth is Ignacio. Zahara plans to rob a drunken admirer but discovers that the man is her boyhood lover Enrique. Next she visits her old school and confronts Father Manolo, who abused her when she was a boy. She demands one million pesetas from him in exchange for halting publication of her story "The Visit". The story is set in a Catholic boarding school for boys in 1964. At the school, Ignacio, a young boy with a beautiful singing voice, is the object of lust of Father Manolo, the school principal and literature teacher. Ignacio has found his first love and cinema in the company of Enrique, a classmate. One night Father Manolo discovers them together and threatens to expel Enrique. In an attempt to prevent this, Ignacio gives himself to Father Manolo. The priest molests Ignacio, but expels Enrique anyway.

Enrique wants to adapt Ignacio's story into a film, but Ángel's condition is that he plays the part of Zahara, the transsexual lead. Enrique remains skeptical, for he feels that the Ignacio whom he loved and the Ignacio of today are totally different people. He drives to Galicia to Ignacio's mother and learns that the real Ignacio has been dead for four years and that the man who came to his office is really Ignacio's younger brother, Juan.

Enrique's interest is piqued, and he decides to do the movie with Juan in the role of Ignacio to find out what drives Juan. Enrique and Ángel start a relationship, and Enrique revises the script so that it ends with Father Manolo, whom Ignacio was trying to blackmail to get money for sex reassignment surgery, having Ignacio murdered. When the scene is shot, Ángel breaks out in tears unexpectedly.

The movie set is visited by Manuel Berenguer, who is the real Father Manolo, who has resigned from Church duty. Berenguer confesses to Enrique that the new ending of the film is not far from the truth: the real Ignacio blackmailed Berenguer, who somehow managed to scratch together the money but also took an interest in Ignacio's younger brother, Juan. Juan and Manuel started a relationship and after a while realized they both wanted to see Ignacio dead. Juan scored some very pure heroin, so that his brother would die by overdose after shooting up. After the crime, the relationship disintegrates; Berenguer wants to continue the relationship with Juan, but Juan is uninterested. Berenguer claims that he will never let Juan go, and Juan threatens to kill him if Berenguer continues to pursue him. Berenguer attempts to blackmail Juan for his part in the murder of Ignacio.

Enrique is shocked and not at all interested in Juan's weak vindications for what he did to his brother. Finally, before he leaves, Juan gives Enrique a piece of paper: a letter to Enrique that Ignacio was in the middle of typing when he died.

In the epilogue, it is mentioned that Enrique releases his film later and achieves great success. Despite the grief and guilt of his brother, Juan also achieves success, but was later relegated to television work. Berenguer dies in a hit-and-run (caused by Juan and thus fulfilling his promise made earlier in the film).



According to Almodóvar, he worked on the screenplay for over ten years.[1]


The film was released in Spain on 19 March 2004, and in the United States on 5 September 2004, to generally positive reviews.

The film was originally rated NC-17 for "a scene of explicit sexual content". The film was later edited to an R rating for "strong sexual content throughout, language, and some drug use".

After a reporter from the New York Times reported that Gael García Bernal had a falling out with the director over the film’s content, the actor defiantly wrote in response that nothing could be further from the truth. [3]


The film received the honor of opening in the 57th Cannes Film Festival in 2004,[4] the first Spanish film to do so.

Ann Hornaday from the Washington Post wrote “To watch Bad Education is to revel, along with Almodovar, in the power of cinema to take us on journeys of breathtaking mystery and dimension and beauty.” [5] Marjorie Baumgarten from the Austin Chronicle wrote “With Bad Education, the great Almodóvar delivers the finest movie of his career.” [5] Peter Travers from Rolling Stone wrote “A rapturous masterwork.” [5]

It received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 88% out of 135 professional critics gave the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.5/10 and the critical consensus being: "A layered, wonderfully-acted, and passionate drama."[6]

Box office

Overall, this film grossed $40 million worldwide.[2] The film grossed $5.2 million in the United States theatrically[2] – a success for a foreign-language film.[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b De La Fuente, Anna Marie (4 November 2004). "Almodovar puts 'Education' to use". Variety. Archived from the original on 20 June 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c "Bad Education (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  3. ^ Alexander Ryll. "Essential Gay Themed Films To Watch, Bad Education (La Mala Educacion)". Gay Essential. Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Bad Education". Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c Alexander Ryll. "Essential Gay Themed Films To Watch, Bad Education (La Mala Educacion)". Gay Essential. Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Bad Education. Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  7. ^ Scott Tobias, "Foreign affairs," The Hollywood Reporter, 19 November 2004

External links