The Wombat Post has decided to add a twist to the video of the week.

In the COVID world, reading, gaming, watching videos and listening to music are becoming the entertainment of choice. We have been encouraging members of the community to submit their favourite local video. Now we’re extending that to encourage people to submit reviews of their favourite books and videos as well.

This week we are kicking off with a review of ‘Bad Education’ – a 108 minute film available on Binge, Youtube, Google Play and Apple TV. There are two good reasons for reviewing this film.

Firstly, Hugh Jackman plays the lead role as Dr Frank Tassone, the charismatic superintendent of the upmarket Roslyn school district in New York around the turn of the century. Secondly, it demonstrates what a good local high school paper can do!

‘Bad Education’ is based on a true story about how middle class parents’ aspirations for their kids to succeed at school led to obfuscation, hypocrisy and corruption in a local school district, and to the biggest financial scandal in the history of US school education. Those who followed the corruption in the Victorian Department of Education three years ago won’t be surprised.

Hugh Jackman is fantastic as Tassone. He blends conflicting desires to be a great teacher and leader with a drive for the respect and reward he thinks he is entitled to, but feels missing from his wealthy school board and parents. Add to this a healthy dose of narcissism including cosmetic surgery – and a hidden life as a gay man.

Jackman is supported by a great cast. Alison Janney plays Pam Gluckin, the School District’s, sharp and wayward Business Administrator. Geraldine Wiswanathan is quietly captivating as Rachel Bhargava the high school student who breaks the story for the school newspaper .

Corey Finey, the relatively young director, nicely illustrates the upper middle class pressure on the Rosyln school district to go up in the education rankings – see the sprawling suburban mansions contrasted with run down public school buildings. It’s worth remembering that less than 10 percent of high school students go to private schools in the US compared with 40 percent in Australia – so parents have a much bigger stake in their local schools.

‘Bad Education’ highlights how corruption gradually spreads through self justification, collusion, fear, group think and cover up until the cost of exposure and doing the right thing becomes very high. It also demonstrates how parents can lose sight of education and treat teachers badly in pursuit of getting their kids into ‘good colleges and universities’. In the end, Rachel, the school reporter stands out as the only person with a moral centre. Her half smiles and throw away lines say it all as she interviews Tassone and Gluckin.

Well worth a look, 4 stars.

Have a look at our music review this week as well.

Review by Hal Swerissen, co-editorĀ