Reel Asian 2017: More on ‘Bad Genius’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, Reel Asian 2017 by - November 16, 2017
Reel Asian 2017: More on ‘Bad Genius’

Bad Genius has had its mix of theatrical and festival openings. It has continued pleasing audiences in both, especially the youth-obsessed Asian moviegoers. The age of the characters in this heist film might be a shallow reason to like it.

However, director Nattawut Poonpiriya does a lot of things differently here. First, most high school films take place in a year or a semester. But Poonpiriya and his writing team stretches that to show snippets of Lynn’s (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying) for four years.

That way we see her relationship with her father (Thaneth Warakulnukroh) who grounds her morally. And we meet the people who inadvertently do the exact opposite, like her classmate Grace (Eisaya Hosuwan).

Lynn and Grace is the film’s central relationship, the former being more severe while the latter is more bubbly. Theirs is one of series of binaries and Poonpiriya and company exposes the complex dynamics of opposites attracting.

What makes up the film’s second binary is Lynn and Grace’s male counterparts – Pat (Teeradon Supapunpiyo) and Bank (Chanon Santinatornkul). Poonpiriya carefully shoots both. There’s literally a scene a where we see Pat through a wine glass – trapped within an enviable social class.

We first see Bank, on the other hand, in what might as well be a deer in a headlights mugshot. The school plasters his face on their walls, a perk of being its smartest student behind Lynn.

Bank’s depiction foretells his story arc from an innocent boy who embroils himself in Lynn’s cheating schemes. In a way, it’s a bleak film warning its audience of how precarious morality can be.

The film’s second half concentrates on the adolescents’ last year in high school, when they plan their riskiest scheme. It’s a thrilling, bumpy ride with well rounded, sympathetic characters that Poonpiriya beautifully sets up for us.

Read my previous take here.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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