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Real-life tales of intrepid journalists bringing down corrupt powers are staples in film and television. HBO’s new made-for-cable movie stands out not just for its A-list lead (Hugh Jackman), but because the reporter who breaks the story is a teenage girl.
The publication: her high-school newspaper. The power she takes down: the administration of her school district, one of the highest-ranked in the nation.
As New York Magazine reported in the article that inspired the screenplay, a “diploma from Roslyn High School is the closest you can get on Long Island to a ticket to Harvard.” So parents and school board members pretend they don’t see the idiosyncrasies in their beloved superintendent’s personality or the discrepancies in his assistant’s accounting.
That’s not good enough for junior journo Rachel (real name Rebekah Rombom), who unearths that Frank Tassone’s entire life is a lie.
Along with frequent bad language, Tassone’s secret long-term relationship with one man and short-term encounters with another, represented by several scenes of kissing, account for a “Mature Audiences” rating. Those drawbacks notwithstanding, Bad Education illustrates journalism’s purpose. Media powerhouses could learn a lot from a high-school girl.