Bad Genius: NZIFF Review
Inspired by true events and a cheating scandal, Thailand's Bad Genius is perhaps the most accessible and popcorn friendly film of the festival.
But this is no bad thing by any stretch of the imagination.
Set in a school where money helps buy you in and keep you there, it's the extremely moral tale of Lynn, a straight A student, who's financially badly off. Approached by her best friend Grace to help her with her grades at her Thai school, Lynn's soon enticed by Grace's boyfriend into running classes to help less able students ace the tests - and with the promise of money, Lynn's soon in and enjoying it.
But when Grace and boyfriend Pat are told by their parents that they have to score highly enough to get into Boston University, Lynn and her warped sense of logic are soon caught in a global scandal...
If one were to say that what is essentially a heist movie but set against a backdrop of school exams is perhaps the most compelling and thrillingly tense movie of the year, then you'd be inclined to think this reviewer had lost it.
However, using smartly edited scenes, a sense of stylistic flashiness, an eye for character and a degree of cinematic aplomb, Bad Genius director Nattawut Poonpiriya manages to create a real sense of danger and tension as the film progresses.
It helps that setting it against a backdrop of a slightly scathing look at the moral arguments over the financial pressures of paying for tuition as well as ensuring there's a heart to the story with Lynn's relationship with struggling friend Bank, means that Bad Genius is a compelling film from beginning to end.
Lacing humour in helps a lot too, and goes some way to alleviating some of the rather appallingly acted non-Thai roles in the final section of the film.
Overall, Bad Genius is pretty much close to Bloody Genius and will most likely, if there's any justice, get a Hollywood remake.
By keeping the presentation simple, but stacking the odds high and personal, as well as delivering a polished and gripping pace, Bad Genius' pleasure comes from ensuring it's thrilling from beginning to end.