Bad Genius [movie reaction]

The cooler South Korean movie poster.
From left to right: Lynn, Bank, Grace, Pat
I've heard of Bad Genius from a student before, its only showing in the Philippines now so I watched it. I loved it and I never thought a movie about an exam could be this suspenseful. Though, I have written a lot about the board exam in this blog and as we all know, exams can be the most nerve-wracking and stressful experiences as students. Many of us  can relate to cheating (we all have done it at least once in our lives), and I think that is a huge factor on this film's popularity. The Thai movie and the actors have won many well-deserved awards.

The story is about Lynn, a smart but introverted high school student. Her father is a teacher who wants a better life for Lynn, so he persuades her to a more prestigious high school against her wishes. She befriends Grace, a pretty and popular student who's not that smart. Lynn helps her cheat in some exams so she can make her grades higher to qualify for the theater club. Pat, Grace's rich boyfriend, soon 'employs' Lynn to help them for their exams.

Bank, another unpopular but top student, becomes Lynn's acquaintance when they both represented their school for a quiz contest. Bank is not that rich, he lives with his mother and they have a laundry shop but he aims for a better life. Bank's honesty exposes Lynn.

Soon, Pat and Grace convince Lynn to work with them again in cheating for a SAT-like exam that students must pass to study in the US. Lynn also convinces Bank to join the scheme, and they also get other students to pay for the answers. Lynn proposes an elaborate scheme, and the main suspense of the story is how they will do it. Will they succeed or will the plan fail?

That's a pared down version of the plot, its better to watch the movie to see the complex motivations of the characters. We see that Lynn is being 'used' by her classmates and friends - so far, after all that she did for them, she still took the blame and none of the others were found out. Bank, who is a genuine and good person at the start, soon changes after being hurt in the process because of other students who'd rather pay than do the hard work of studying.

I was kind of hoping for a love story between these two
As I watched, the true antagonists were the students who 'used' Lynn to cheat (her so-called friends). The movie's story also showed how unfair life is, especially in school - the rich kids get away with anything because of their cash, and those who work hard are sometimes unappreciated.

Bad Genius has the right mixture of suspense, drama, humor, and delivers a moral lesson. Viewers can have a good laugh over the complicated 'techniques' that students have come up with to cheat on exams and maybe some of us can relate. Bad Genius is one of the best movies I've watched this year.

Some more unrelated personal thoughts
As I watched the movie, I was in tears in some scenes (the actors playing Bank and Lynn are really great) because it reminded me of painful experiences in school. I can relate a bit to Lynn and Bank, and I have also felt that I was being 'used' by some people, not for friendship, but for some sort of personal gain.

I was reminiscing about my college life the day before and if I could turn back time, I'd have probably gotten rid of some toxic friendships that only sapped the life out of me and didn't bring me any genuine joy. I sometimes found myself trying to change in order to please certain people, and I felt sad because of the regret - I should have thought of myself first rather than them. It was late when I realized that some people were merely 'using' me for their own personal gain. I'm civil with them, but I don't think that I'll let them be that involved in my life again.

I liked how Lynn said to Bank (about the more popular Pat and Grace): "We're losers. We're not like Grace and Pat. We have to work a lot harder." It was harsh, but it was true. In the adolescent high school world, it's the extroverts who win, and most introverts just remembered having a hard time.

One last lesson: cheating is a fast remedy, but it will not solve the problem. In my opinion, it is better to fail than to cheat. The best solution to your grades is actual studying and understanding your lessons in school. I'm really amused that the people in the story had to go all through that when in the end studying for the exam is easier and less stressful than a heist!

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