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Bad Education

This film is based on the true story of Dr. Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) and Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) who were convicted of embezzling millions of dollars from a school district in Long Island that Dr. Tassone had helped build into one with a high reputation for getting seniors admitted to prestigious colleges. There is not a very deep examination of the years of scheming that led to this happening; the film starts off when Gluckin is caught embezzling money to finance home remodeling and is really about the downfall of both. The film is smartly made. Janney and Jackman are both wonderful (and great together), but the film belongs to Jackman. He is fantastic portraying a guy who is riding the crest of success but who has been embezzling for so long that he has managed to find a way to rationalize his behavior. His facial expressions communicate as much as what he says; he seems to be constantly one step from falling apart as he keeps up his professional front. There is one scene where Tassone goes off on a little boy who is having learning problems that is magnificent. The screenplay is well done and in its own carefully developed pace drops clues about the extent of Tassone’s misstepping and the double life he was leading. The score is also very interesting and matches the mood and pace of the film very well. Big thumbs up from me! (2020; 4 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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