Commercially, Hugh Jackman is one of the world’s most successful actors. With roles in The X-Men franchise, as well as the likes of The Greatest Showman, his movies have netted hundreds of millions of dollars at the Box Office.
At heart, Jackman was always meant to play loud, commanding roles. It’s what has made him the megastar that he is today. However, in his role in Bad Education, he tones down the dramatics and delivers a performance that some critics are hailing as his best work yet. Directed by Cory Finley, the movie plays to Jackman’s strengths but in a way that is much more understated than any of his previous roles.
Jackman plays the role of Frank Tassone, a superintendent at a school in the village of Roslyn, Long Island. Tassone spends his days handling helicopter parents who want to be involved in every possible aspect of their children’s lives. Over the weekends, he attends education conferences, and we see the most significant relationship in his life appear to be with his job as he never explores his surroundings in any significant way.
However, this relationship is a complicated one. While he seems to live for it, he also seems tired of it. The only glimpse into his past that we get is through a picture kept on his desk. Framed is an image of his late wife, who he admits to still be grieving for.
Much like Jackman himself, Tassone is a performer at his core. He loves being onstage and seems more alive there than at any other point in the film. In fact, the very first time that we meet Frank Tassone, he is using the restroom in his personal green room. He then does some last-minute preparation in front of the mirror before walking out to an applauding crowd in an auditorium. He is being congratulated for orchestrating his school’s success, rising to a new high point on the Wall Street Journal’s annual list of public schools. While this is an impressive feat, Tassone’s feathers are somewhat ruffled by the fact that it only ranks fourth and not first.
The film is based on the true story of a major case of embezzlement that completely shook the Roslyn school district in 2004. A news feature served as the basis for the script written by Mike Makowsky. For those not all too familiar with the ins and outs of this case, letting the movie uncover all the finer details for you will be quite the treat. Helping the narrative along is the character of Rachel, played by Geraldine Viswanathan. The young, teenage journalist uncovers a bit more than she intends to about where the school’s money is really going, and things quickly start to unravel for Tassone.
Bad Education also stars the incredible Allison Janney, who plays the role of Pam Gluckin, Tassone’s assistant. Between Janney, Jackman and Viswanathan, the film is one that will not soon be forgotten. It leaves a lasting impression, just like the fun games around the internet do. While it was not released in cinemas and instead on HBO’s streaming platform, it has plenty to offer – it’s engaging, intriguing and absolutely riveting.