Film: Bad Genius

Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, Eisaya Hosuwan, Teeradon Supapunpinyo, Chanon Santinatornkul, Thaneth WarakulnukrohDirected by:Nattawut Poonpiriya Written by: Tanida Hantaweewatana, Vasudhorn Piyaromna, Nattawut Poonpiriya
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RATING: 4/5 stars

I didn't expect much when I entered the world of Bad Genius. I ended up on an entertaining, emotional, and thrilling ride watching these teenagers. I never knew what would happen from one scene to the next and it was exhilarating. It's a long while since a film filled me with so much suspense. 


The Thai film centers on Lynn (played by Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying), an extraordinarily smart student, and her spiral into a world of cheating, scheming and lying for money. It begins when Grace, Lynn's best friend, is about to fail her test and Lynn rushes to her rescue. Soon, Pat, Grace's rich boyfriend, wants Lynn's assistance too. Pat and many other classmates are willing to offer monetary compensation for her services. So when Lynn realizes her father struggles to pay her school fees, she devises a system to provide them with her correct answers.All is well as Lynn's bank balance increases until a fellow genius, Bank (played by Chanon Santinatornkul) spots a student trying to cheat off Lynn. Bank attempts to do the right thing by turning the student in. Lynn and Bank clash on the moralities of cheating in a system that forever puts the working poor at an disadvantage. The two geniuses are eventually swayed by the promise of money though. They want wealth to build a better future for themselves and their parents. With a group of rich customers financing their operation, Lynn, Bank, Pat and Grace set their sights on one last scheme to get millions each. Lynn creates an elaborate and seemingly foolproof plan to send the answers to the STIC test - a fictional SAT-like college entrance exam for students around the world.


Nattawut Poonpiriya's slick directing is brilliant at building up anticipation and suspenseful in the film.  Lynn panickingly trying to walk through a train station escape a STIC security guard literally had me at the edge of my seat. The ability to feel the thrill of these moments rests on Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying’s amazing performance as Lynn. Lynn is so resourceful that the viewers and her classmates easily trust her but she doesn't hold the answers to everything. She panics, cries, and struggles with the morality of her actions, especially in front of her honorable father. Lynn is willing to cheat in order to get to finance her dream to study in the US but her father is content with a smaller life of dignity. The turmoil within their strong father-daughter relationship becomes the emotional backbone of the film. Meanwhile, Eisaya Hosuwan's delivers a charming performance as Grace and Teeradon Supapunpinyo provides levity with comedic moments as Pat. The quiet intensity in Chanon Santinatornkul's portrayal of Bank is mesmerizing especially beside Chuengcharoensukying.


The film also noticeably veers away from more predictable elements viewers may expect. In the age of high tech Mr. Robot hacking, Bad Genius decides not to rely on technology to simply steal the answer key to the STIC.  Smartphones are used only to deliver the answers to the questions Lynn and Bank must figure out themselves. There's more than just an abundance aof intellect between the two geniuses though.  The teens share many intense shares and touches, creating the sense that Lynn and Bank may become romantically involved. However, Poonpiriya chooses to exclude a love story. The film's focus remains on the heist and Lynn. I appreciated  the lack of a central romance and found it really refreshing. Still, I have to admit, the chemistry was so strong that there were a few moments where I really rooting for a kiss between the two.