Never Think Impossible

Fantasia Film Review: Bad Genius

No cheating. I’m watching you.

Ahem. Bad Genius is the cautionary moral tale of Lynn (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying). She certainly doesn’t need to cheat, she can beat any test with time to spare. Unfortunately, her father has trouble making ends meet. After Lynn decides to help her friend Grace with the answers right in the middle of a test, she gets the offer to do the same for others for money. Poor Lynn is seduced by- wait, can we start over?

No, it’s not really a cautionary tale. Remember standard testing in high school or taking a test in general? It was a bit of hell, wasn’t it? Did you ever had the fantasy of beating the test by other means – and I mean, very creative means? You might have even written the answers on an eraser for a friend or someone had done it for you. Did you ever fantasize about doing that in a massive scale and turning a profit? Well, let me introduce you to the most subversive dream scenario of a criminal caper where brains can get substantial profit directly.

Thai director and writer Nattawut Poonpiriya brings this fantasy to life based on a real story. I’m pretty sure he took a lot of creative liberties here and there, but that’s what movies do. What we end up with is a nail-biting suspense thriller that is set on a location that’s familiar to anybody – high school. We’ve all – ahem, ok – some of us have fantasized about bending the rules of the ancient and outdated multiple choice test.

The movie is essentially a bank heist with the same odds of getting caught, except you’re a high schooler who doesn’t want their parents getting called in. And Lynn’s relationship with her father is one of the most important things to her. She might have been shy about crossing the moral line, but once she does she’s all business. It’s all math, and that includes the payoff. Once the odds are higher, the money rolls in but to make this plan happen will take some unlikely allies.

Extremely recommended for anybody who’s gone to high school or is still there. The director geniusly (see what I did there) tackles the subject of cheating making it feel like a heist movie. However, as all heists, everything can go wrong and the level of intelligence required to improvise in such situations is above a genius level. At some point you wonder what these kids could do if they were willing to put this level of effort in studying for the damn test already. That being said, you can’t deny that this way it makes for an exciting movie.

That will do for now.