Saturday, 12 August 2017

Movie Review: Bad Genius

Bad Genius is an intense thrill ride. Exams have never been this entertaining, hilarious and nerve-racking before. Based on recent reporting about real-life scandals of Scholastic Assessment Tests (SAT, portrayed as STIC in the film), Bad Genius deserves its high praise for its highly engaging storytelling and deliciously clever editing for their heist scenes.

The titular heroine here is prodigy student Lynn (played by Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying in her first onscreen role), who has just enrolled in an elite school according to her father’s wishes. She comes from a lower middle-class group and her father is a recently divorced schoolteacher. The film shows her journey of discovery and personal growth as a person as she comes to peace for who she is and decides who she wants to be as she navigates through various teen social issues in this corrupt, crooked world of ours.

In order to help and support her working class dad who tries to find more money for her tuition, Lynn decided to use her genius intellect to devise a system to cheat in exams for a group of wealthy classmates in exchange for cash payments. This eventually balloons into a daring venture with an elaborate plan to cheat in an international exam. Believe it or not, it’s rather exciting to see how the students find their ways to cheat onscreen.

The film showed some insights on class inequalities and corrupt system that plagues the education system. It highlights a social system that benefits the rich. The class differences of each character draws out their inherent personalities as well, such as Grace’s (Lynn’s friend who she met when enrol at school) emotional blackmail of Lynn to get good results to join the acting club (which leaves one to question whether her friendship with Lynn is genuine or not), or even Pat’s (who’s also Grace’s boyfriend) enterprising thinking and tendency to use people to get what he wants.

On the other hand, Lynn and Bank (Lynn’s rival and interest) are exceptionally intelligent but not socially groomed or conniving compared with their wealthy classmates. Their feelings for one another and conflict of interest on ethical grounds are fresh and wonderful takes on the frenemy formula. It is especially saddening to see their loss of innocence and their internal anguish at the end. Bad Genius showed the consequences, showing that bad things always happen in this crooked world of ours.

One of the commendable aspects of the film is that no high-tech fantastical flashy gadgets were used (unlike many Hollywood blockbusters) to enact the heist, which gives a strong sense of realism to it. I won’t spoil the technicalities of doing the heist here; you need to see it for yourself.

Bad Genius is a huge surprise, a film that surpasses expectations. All of it works. None of the scenes are wasted. It’s an exceptional one-of-a-kind movie! One of the best films of the year. Highly recommended. A must watch!

"If you don't cheat, life cheats you."

Rating: 9/10