This latter and better Bad Education is based on the 2002 Rosalyn High School scandal, in which superintendent
Frank Tassone stole millions from the school’s budget before being
arrested in 2004.
Jackman plays Frank, who starts as Rosalyn’s all-loving,
all-knowing, all-powerful leader. He’s a deceptively attractive man, not (only) because he's a suited-up Hugh Jackman; he's just great at
pretty much everything. He knows the name of every student, the details of
every parent, the hobbies of every teacher. He even relishes the opportunity to
discuss Dickens in a book club of smitten mothers. There’s no breaking his
this isn’t one of Jackman’s sparkly-eyed nonsense roles, like The Greatest Showman. The mask of Frank Tassone eventually lifts to reveal an unintentionally
horrible character, gradually pulled apart by his numerous secrets and
Makowsky offers a suitable insight into these true events – chiefly because he attended Rosalyn when the scandal took place. Makowsky
doesn’t open with the superintendent’s deceptions; he makes us trust Frank,
love him even. There’s nothing not
to like about him.
But the seeds of doubt start to be sown as the vice-superintendent
Pam Gluckin, played by an always razor-sharp Allison Janney (I, Tonya, The
West Wing), is caught embezzling.
navigates his different characters with intelligent precision, to the point
where even the smaller players earn some decent screen time. The most
entertaining of these is Rachel (Geraldine Viswanathan), a student reporter ironically encouraged by
Frank, who investigates the school's spending. Her sub-plot possesses all the
intelligent thrills of a journo drama, with the added hilarity of her
having no investigative experience.
doesn’t depict these villains with the venom they deserve, which makes for
exciting, curious viewing. Frank makes a difference in people’s lives, as every
teacher should strive to do. His vast and empathetic memory extends also to
those who’ve left the school, including a strapping young bartender he bumps
into on a trip to Vegas.
and Makowsky craft an endlessly hypercritical persona: angelically selfless,
yet driven by ego; personable, yet wielding many masks that eventually eat his
face. Frank Tussone isn’t just one person. Although Bad Education
doesn’t laugh as much as it should, with some of the dialogue being blunt around the
edges, the film uncovers these demons of society and finds their many human
Reviewed at the 2019 London Film Festival. Bad Education is available on Sky Cinema and NOW TV from Saturday 11 July
|What||Bad Education film review|
11 Jul 20 – 11 Jul 21, ON SKY CINEMA
|Price||£ determined by cinemas|
|Website||Click here for more information|