Review: 'Bad Genius'

A Thai heist comedy-drama sees a high school maths genius looking to make a living from cheating in exams.

I can't recall seeing a film from Thailand before. So here's another box being ticked off.

It's already been released throughout Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand. It's now been doing the festival circuit across several festivals in Europe and America.

Based on its reviews alone, I wanted to check this out and obviously went in pretty cold knowing very little about it and not seeing a single second of content from its trailers.

Oh my! What a fun film and such a refreshing take on the heist genre. I was instantly seeing similarities to 21, with the feel-good vibe of Ocean's Eleven and a touch of comedy similar to an Edgar Wright feature. But obviously not as clever as the man himself.

I even noticed the editing was very ‘Wright-esque’ with its particular brand of sharpness within its cuts. Another similarity was the score. It reminded me of a much more heightened version of the music from The Social Network.

As I was understanding its concept, I was just loving how they were executing it. What was making it even more impressive was that the film was managing to up itself three times over. Ironically, it felt genius every time they pulled it off in telling this story.

To further add my love for this was the great characters. Two really well developed leads and plenty of supporting acts that felt integral, highly memorable, and scene-stealing.

Sadly, after all the excitement, gripping tension, and many laugh-out-loud moments, I did not like the ending.

It's amazing to find out that this was inspired by many true stories of similar incidents. It really makes you think about how the education system is run, and I felt it was pretty accurate from an international students' perspective. The pressure from their parents and the lengths people will go to get the right grades.

The cast were tip-top, and with the actor playing the central character being a fashion model and that this is her first film role, I was even more impressed at how she performed. Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying looked as if she had been doing this for years. She was very believable, was given lots of development, and became a fully-fledged character. Chanon Santinatornkul really shone in the second half and competed well with Chuengcharoensukying for the lead.

The comedic support by Eisaya Hosuwan and Teeradon Supapunpinyo were great value, got a lot of laughs out of me, and were consistent throughout. There were a couple of minor roles that stole a few scenes. Pasin Kuansataporn was a memorable minor character that just further enhanced the comedy.

As for Thaneth Warakulnukroh, he gave the film some necessary dramatic moments and became a much more important character than initially thought.

Despite having so much fun with this, I did mention that I wasn't into the ending at all. I didn't see the point of it, and it just felt like it contradicted everything that happened in the rest of the film. But I can see why some people might like how it finished. So it is not completely irredeemable.

While the pay-off prevented me from giving it a spectacularly high score, I had a great time with this. I loved how they constructed the story, and the execution brought out lots of laughs and terrific excitement in its tense scenes. I was never bored and the dramatic and emotional moments never felt out of place and were as integral as every other part of the story.

It currently does not have any general release dates in the western world. But surely, it's only a matter of time?

Rating: 8/10

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Review: 'Bad Genius'