Review: Jackman shines in Bad Education
Every so often, Hugh Jackman likes to remind us that he has other speeds outside of gruff intensity and sparkly musical.
Comedy-drama film Bad Education sees him give a brilliant performance.
Based on real events, Jackman plays Frank Tassone, a school administrator who is so close to perfect, you know something has to be wrong.
He is doing great things for the schools, improving facilities and grades, and beloved by teachers, colleagues and parents. He is humble and knows all the students' names, past and present. He also seems frugal.
A true leader and the nicest guy in the world – on the surface.
Early on, displaying his great love of his job by encouraging all, he tells one student journalist (played by Geraldine Viswanathan) that her article on a new school building is only a puff piece if she lets it be one.
At which point, you know his gift for inspiration has just set his empire to topple.
That student journalist starts digging – and discovering.
Bad Education could be a companion piece to Jackman's 2018 political drama The Front Runner, and it is also close to the 2003 film Shattered Glass –both of which are true stories about seemingly upstanding people caught in their own lie.
As Tassone's private and public worlds crumble, so does his veneer of patience and nicety.
There are hints to his vanity. The real Tassone must be over the moon with Jackman playing him.
The fascinating thing is that Tassone and his similarly embezzling colleague Pam Gluckin (the ever excellent Allison Janney) were both genuinely committed to improving education, giving their all for the Long Island school district under their care.
But more than US$11 million (S$16 million) was found to be stolen in the scandal.
Gluckin is portrayed as having fallen along the way.
With Tassone, it is hard to say which came first –the educator or the con man.
But there's no doubt he's a sociopath.
But it is also a case of everyone was happy to ignore the signs until they weren't.
Director Cory Finley's use of camera angles heightens the tension and he brings moments of dark humour to Mike Makowsky's script.
Yet, it is Jackman that really makes this work. It is great to see him run through the emotions, showing a desperate man internally clawing for the right words to talk his way out.
Bad Education is Hugh Jackman at his best.
FILM: Bad Education
STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, Geraldine Viswanathan, Ray Romano, Alex Wolff
DIRECTOR: Corey Finley
THE SKINNY: Upright school administrator Frank Tassone (Jackman) is found to be behind the largest school embezzlement scandal in US history.
SHOWING: April 26, 8am on HBO Go, with a same-day telecast at 10pm on HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601/Singtel TV Ch 420)