Lynn, a genius high school student who makes money by cheating tests, receives a new task that leads her to set foot on Sydney, Australia. In order to complete the millions-Baht task, Lynn and her classmates have to finish the international STIC(SAT) exam and deliver the answers back to her friends in Thailand before the exam takes place once again in her home country.
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Lynn, a genius high school student who makes money by helping others cheat tests, receives a new task that leads her to Sydney, Australia. In order to complete the millions-Baht task, Lynn and her classmate have to finish the international STIC (SAT) exam and deliver the answers back to her friends in Thailand, before the exam takes place once again in her home country.
This being a Thai movie, I was pleasantly surprised to notice there are no ghosts or cheesy romantic couplings. Bad Genius is essentially a caper thriller and it is as suspenseful as they come.
Brilliant student Lynn (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying – that's quite a mouthful) makes money by helping her classmates cheat on school tests. Her friends Grace (Eisaya Hosuwan) and Pat (Teeradon Supapunpinyo) then propose a million-Baht idea – to help students cheat on the STIC, an important standardized test used to gain placements in prestigious universities in the US. Lynn agrees to do it, but she can't do it without Bank's (Chanon Santinatornkul) help.
Bad Genius is one dynamite of a film. Who would have thought a simple idea of cheating in a test can go supernova. The narrative structure employed to tell the story is brilliant and assured. The twists and turns just keep on piling up, and not one time did I fall out of the story. The plot may be crazily far-fetched, but writer-director Nattawut Poonpiriya keeps it plausible and on the pulse. By that I mean it is instantly relatable, especially when we come up through the pressure-cooker education system.
The cast only has one recognizable veteran actor in Thaneth Warakulnukroh (Pop Aye) who plays Lynn's father. The rest of the cast are newbies, led by Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, a 21-year-old model making her acting debut. Their rawness shines through and it makes the characters compelling and believable. The writing is a mark of genius in that it comes up with ingenious methods to beat the school system; the trailer will give you a glimpse of that.
One of the things I always teach my kids in my writing class is to make sure the journey of the main character is never be too easy. Using a "two steps forward one step back" approach, there must be setbacks for the character to negotiate along the way and the narrative of Bad Genius exemplifies this to a T. When done well, you will be so caught up in the proceedings and wouldn't be able to see the gears moving behind the seams. For this to work, the ground work of laying down all the characters' myriad of motivations must be established well. Poonpiriya has done a superb job here, so much so that when the eventual comeuppance arrives it will hit you with a jolt to the jugular.
On top of that the movie has loads of heart and it puts the relentless pressure to succeed in the school system under the microscope. Bad Genius also works as a cautionary tale in that the end does not justify the means. Perhaps where the film could have done better is to examine certain issues that were brought up but weren't handled in depth, like how the school is in itself "cheating" by requesting the parents pay for school maintenance and how exams are not the only measure to determine a student's aptitude. But all this does not matter because the film clearly scores full marks in where it matters – a superb piece of entertainment.
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