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:: Bad Education (La Mala Educación)

Pedro Almodovar’s latest film is a sexy, dark and constantly surprising reinvention of film noir, complete with moral disquiet, a “femme” fatale, and many layers of truth.

Even from the beginning of this glorious, complex film, Hitchcock’s influence is evident. Retro titles featuring red, black and a white are accompanied by Alberto Iglesias’ score, reminiscent of Psycho composer Bernard Herrman.

It’s 1980, and jaded film-maker Enrique (Fele Martinez) receives a visit from an old school friend/crush, Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal), who now wishes to be known as Angel. Angel offers Enrique a story, The Visit, based on a traumatic event 16 years ago, when the two were students at a Catholic primary school. A beautiful boy soprano, Ignacio was abused by paedophile priest Father Manolo (Daniel Giminez Cacho), and now he’s offering Enrique the story.

Then as The Visit moves from script to film, we meet Juan, and another layer of truth is added to this disturbing fairytale. Simply, Juan is one of the most ambitious, disturbing characters ever to appear in film. And his beauty is dangerous, whether dressed in male or female clothing.

Finally we hear the story from disgraced priest Father Manolo to eventually arrive at most of the truth. Enough to satisfy but not satiate our curiosity.

This is Almodovar’s most complex film yet, but its emotional resonance makes it much more than a puzzle. Garcia Bernal’s performance is hypnotic, and he’s ably supported by a committed cast to deliver a film that will improve each time you see it.