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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Oct 7, 2020




‘BAD EDUCATION’ (not to be confused with Pedro Almodovar’s movie with the same title) won the best television movie award at the recent Emmy Awards and it’s lead actor, Hugh Jackman, was nominated for best actor. 

Made by HBO Films, it’s based on an article in New York Magazine. “The Superintendent”, about the true story of embezzlement that happened at Roslyn High School in Long Island, New York. Their school superintendent, Dr. Frank Tassone, was convicted for stealing millions of dollars from the public school system.

The scriptwriter, Mike Makowsky, is a former student of Roslyn and he remembers the scandal well, which happened in 2004. Director Cory Finley (known for “Thoroughbreds”), weaves a stranger than fiction tale of greed, corruption and amorality. 

Tassone is well loved in their school. He has a good natured personality and he’s a metro-sexual who’s so vain, always well groomed, gets surgical face lifts and consumes nothing but diet drinks to keep his trim figure. 

Under him, Roslyn has become a successful high school where graduates pass in top Ivy League schools. Even the price of real estate in their area went up because of the prestige brought about by Roslyn. 

The school board is even proud of Tassone’s extravagant project, a multi-million dollar skywalk that will make their school a notch higher than their rival sshools.

Little did the parents know that Tassone is leading a double life. He’s actually a closeted gay who has a much older long time companion in Manhattan and a younger one in Las Vegas who used to be his former student. 

Hugh portrays Tassone as someone really likeable, always smiling, so when his misdeeds are discovered, we the viewers, are shocked along with the parents. For a while, we even sort of side with Tassone, hoping his accusers are wrong. 

Through it all, Tassone never loses his cool and remains very calm, feeling quite superior even. Actually, it’s Tassone’s assistant, Pamela Gluckin (Allison Janney), who was first discovered and arrested, due to the carelessness of her own dimwit son in squandering the ill-gotten wealth his mom obtained from corruption. 

Tassone should have started covering his tracks, but he didn’t, and soon, his own malfeasance was discovered by a student journalist, Rachel Bhargava (Geraldine Viswanathan), who’s writing for their school paper. 

Tassone is no doubt the villain here but he’s the movie’s central character and we follow him in his jaunts in Las Vegas and his trysts with his two lovers. 

Hugh Jackman gives a terrific performance in making us like an awful character even after the movie has convinced us that he should really go to hell for his misdeeds. 

Director Finley’s sharp and nuanced treatment of this true story, about the biggest embezzlement scandal in the history of the American school system, proves that dramatizing bad behavior can make a for a good film with poisoned humor, particularly when it’s interpreted by an adept actor like Jackman who can look both innocent and guilty at the same time.