Director: Nattawut Poonpiriya
Cast: Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, Chanon Santinatornkul, Teeradon Supapunpinyo, Eisaya Hosuwan
Runtime: 2 hrs 3 mins
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 8 June 2017
Synopsis: Welcome to an exam-cheating business run by ‘Lynn’ (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying), a straight-A student who gets the idea for her business after helping ‘Grace’ (Eisaya Hosuwan) and ‘Pat’ (Teeradon Supapunpinyo). Grace is a prominent school activist who can’t get the grades she needs and Pat is a filthy-rich boy who believes money can buy anything. Lynn’s business skyrockets and the money starts to flood in as scores of students offer her cold hard cash in exchange for exam answers. One day, Lynn is offered the opportunity to make millions of Baht. It is Pat and Grace who devise a plan for her to take the STIC test, an international standardised test for students wanting to enrol in the world’s leading universities. The test is scheduled to take place on the same date and same time at locations all over the world. Although it will be extremely difficult to pull off, their plan is for Lynn to fly to a country in a time zone that’s ahead of Thailand and then send the answers back to her customers. The only setback is that they need another genius scholar to help them pass on the answers in Thailand and the only person that fits the profile is ‘Bank’ (Chanon Santinatornkul), Lynn’s scholarship-student rival who staunchly detests cheating of any kind. What will Lynn do to convince Bank to overcome his moral dilemma and help them?
Bad Genius is the second feature film of award-winning Thai writer-director Nattawut Poonpiriya. The movie was a hit at the Thai box office, making over S$4 million to date. Usually when people talk about Thai movies, they'll usually associate them with the genres of horror or rom-com. However, Nattawut Poonpiriya has chosen to lay off those genres, and continue to hone his edge in thriller/ drama.
In this latest feature film, the narration is around cheating. Lynn (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying) comes from a single parent family and slipped into the idea of monetizing her wits by providing her schoolmates with answers to exams after she helped Grace (Eisaya Hosuwan) once. Considering the easy money she could bring back home to relief her father of financial burden, she continued to partner Grace and her boyfriend Pat (Teeradon Supapunpinyo) scale up her ‘business’.
Bank (Chanon Santinatornkul), also an straight As student like Lynn, refused to help with the cheating even though he was offered big bucks by his classmate. He reported straightaway of a suspected cheating to the school authorities, only to realise Lynn did involve herself in such activities. However, little did the school, Lynn’s dad or Bank know the real scale of things…
At a wider angle, this movie is one which questions the moral behavior of a person and how that affects the person way of life and even the repercussions it has on others. As illustrated by the movie, Lynn struggled much at first but her principles bent eventually and went downtheslipperyslope. That was not because of her own ill character, but was influenced by the contradictory, inconsistent behaviors that both the school and father put up.
While the merit of the movie was that it managed to pull off something ‘out of norm’, in terms of outwitting in the ways of cheating, the story overall missed some charm. It was coherent and all, but overall the plot felt quite juvenile and childish. The cast is obviously young, and they did just enough to sustain the movie. However, it wasn’t something that was stellar and outstanding.
In terms of originality, the movie likely have aced it. The cheating methods were not short of creativity, and the camera angles did help to accentuate the thrilling factor. Shots of humour were weaved into the storyline and attempted to liven up the atmosphere. However, the movie still didn’t feel like it had a central core to it. It was possibly because it wasn’t supported by strong acting and the character development was not robust.
All in all, Bad Genius is only good as an alternative to the mainstream Thai movies. If you’re looking for a decent move which tugs your heart and challenge your thoughts, then this is probably not it.
(Even though this movie proved popular at the Thai box offices, we aren’t sure if the local audiences have the appetite for Bad Genius)
Review by Tho Shu Ling