Foreign Film Series hits of spring semester with thrill and high action…about good grades
Cheating. Most students have either thought of, or actually have cheated on some test at some point in their lives. Those slick enough to get away with it can live freely in anonymity, silently gloating at their success. However, those who are caught are not so lucky. Every few years some college board is under fire for recycling test answers, or having too lax of security measures in their testing rooms. Students who get caught up in these scandals have their test results nullified, are punished by their schools and branded with the moniker of “cheater”. Surprising as it may be, organized cheating rings in Asian countries taking advantage of recycled test forms is a constant issue. “Bad Genius” tackles the strange world of Asian cheating rings in an intense, two hour long, heist-style film.
Teen genius, Lynn (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying), aids her best friend Grace (Eisaya Hosuwan) in cheating on a test so her grades will be high enough to audition for the school play. Simple enough, and done with good intentions. A one time thing, right? Unfortunately, things get complicated when Grace brings in her boyfriend, who brings in five friends, who all bring in their friends. Suddenly, Lynn is not only one of the two smartest students in school, but she is revered as something of a crime boss, with dozens of students hanging onto her every word and handsomely paying her for her “tutoring” lessons. But what happens when Lynn takes on more “students”? What happens when the tests get harder, the security stricter, the stakes higher?
Not your typical action flick
Unlike many popular heist-style movies, Lynn is the singular mastermind behind the various plots in the film, making her seem unrealistically intelligent, but she is not the only one. Every single one of the people involved in the cheating ring eventually go to pretty extreme lengths to keep from getting caught, though that can partially be explained by how much is on the line for these students.
Also unlike other heist movies, the various characters of “Bad Genius” do not have the familial relationships that many American viewers are used to seeing in films like “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Mission Impossible” or “Fast and Furious 5”. Their relationship is less akin to friendship and is actually closer to a cut and dry business transaction. They remain loyal to each other under threat of getting caught and, not because they genuinely care for one another.
While many of the characters possess more adult attributes, they are still, at their core, relatable teenagers. The teens of “Bad Genius” are rash, self-centered, self-serving, and manipulative in ways that no teen would ever want to admit they are, and yet it is not hard to see oneself in them. There are students all over the world that would go to extreme lengths to get good grades, be accepted to a good school and prove to the adult world that they are no longer just a “kid”. However unlikely as the specific events of this movie may be, it speaks to something that lies deep within most every young adult: the bad genius we all want to be.
The film received much critical acclaim, winning seventeen of its twenty-seven award nominations at various national film festivals, and it is not hard to see why. The film was largely awarded for the stellar acting of the main cast, as well as the direction and editing of the film. Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying (playing Lynn), is a fashion model making her debut to the big screen in “Bad Genius”, and by her performance it is difficult to believe that she is not a well seasoned actress. Likewise, the rest of the cast is relatively new to the feature film seen, but they all present such riveting performances that one wouldn’t notice at first glance.
“Bad Genius” is an adrenaline packed ride of bad decisions and over-complicated schemes from start to finish and a must-see for any lover of thrilling heists or despiser of standardized tests.