Wednesday, April 29, 2020

What I’m Watching: Bad Education

Bad Education (B+)

It's not too often that I sit down to watch a TV movie, and I've actually only seen two of the nominees for the top corresponding Emmy category in the past five years - "The Tale," which was screened its TV premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, and "Hello Ladies: The Movie," which was the conclusion of a show I very much enjoyed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both of those landed at HBO, and that network is the same one that aired this TV movie, which itself debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. I was excited to see that Cory Finley, who I got to interview for his work on the excellent film "Thoroughbreds," directed this engaging and entertaining look at a real-life scandal in Long Island. I enjoyed the frequent references to top competitor Syosset, where my dad was born and my grandfather still lives. The construction of the narrative was effective, with the reporter played by Geraldine Viswanathan from "Miracle Workers" slowly uncovering things that were hidden in plain sight while Hugh Jackman's Frank shook hands and made people smile to keep them distracted. There's no denying the strength of the performances here, particularly Jackman, who had what seemed like a great role in "The Front Runner" in 2018 that proved disappointing, and Allison Janney, a seven-time Emmy winner and recent Oscar winner who may well have to compete against herself if her turn in Amazon's "Troop Zero" nets her a second nomination. They're both strong Emmy contenders, and I also appreciated the supporting turns from Ray Romano, Rafael Casal from "Blindspotting" as Kyle, and Annaleigh Ashford from "Masters of Sex" as Jenny. I like that this was sort of a comedy even though what happened was very problematic, and I think the way it was portrayed here made for great fun. I'll be perfectly happy to see this show pick up a number of trophies for its performers and maybe even its production or writing.

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