The new HBO film Bad Education, released in the US this week, is based on the the unbelievable real-life scandal of Frank Tassone, a former superintendent who was jailed after stealing millions from the Roslyn school district in New York. Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney lead the cast, and Jackman himself is earning rave reviews for what some are calling a career-best performance.
The charismatic Frank Tassone became superintendent of an affluent Long Island school district in 1992, and charmed students and parents alike with his attentiveness and dedication. While he was well-loved in the community, his extravagant lifestyle raised eyebrows, and it was eventually discovered that he had been skimming funds from the district.
Tassone, who convinced his fellow staff that he was grieving the loss of his wife, spent vast amounts of money on clothes, cars, lobster lunches, Caribbean vacations and a Manhattan apartment for his secret long-term boyfriend, as well as a Las Vegas home for his other secret boyfriend. He was jailed in 2006, and released in 2010 on good behaviour.
Bad Education was written by former Roslyn middle school student Mike Makowsky, who said that the community felt shocked and betrayed at the extent of Tassone’s deception. The film has so far earned good reviews, and many have singled out Hugh Jackman for his take on the character.
The Guardian said that the Aussie actor gives “the performance of his career”, and that his portrayal of the troubled Tassone is “more studied and specific and fully-formed than we’ve ever seen.” Polygon also praised Jackman in their review, saying that the Logan star “sells both the sincerity [of the character], and the sense of something lurking under it.”
The AV Club said “the strength of Jackman’s performance is that he hoodwinks us with his decency,” while Vox said that the film “serves up stellar performances from Jackman and Janney, both of whom seem trapped in hells of their own devising, suspended between a desire to serve the community and the feeling that their labor is underappreciated.”
Aussies who are keen to check out Hugh Jackman in Bad Education will need to wait a few more weeks, with the film set to premiere on Fox Showcase on May 17.