Genius ways to beat the system

REVIEW / THRILLER DRAMA

BAD GENIUS

130 minutes/Opens tomorrow/ 4 stars

The story: Brilliant student Lynn (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying) 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 standardised test used for university applications.

Commercial Thai film-makers are known for making horror flicks or cute romantic comedies, but this thrilling caper is proof that they have much more to offer.

Writer-director Nattawut Poonpiriya (Countdown, 2012) keeps things surprising from start to finish, especially in the methods the students come up with to game the school system.

Some ideas are truly innovative, such as when Lynn uses a finger- tapping code after getting inspiration from playing the piano. She also figures out that she can fly to another country to take a standardised test first and text the answers home, taking advantage of different time zones.

Where the film-maker succeeds most is how he makes everything plausible, despite the seemingly far-fetched plot.

Hollywood made a film with a similar premise more than a decade ago - The Perfect Score (2004), starring Scarlett Johansson, Erika Christensen and Chris Evans as students trying to steal the answers to their college entrance examinations.

But everything plays out so easily for them in that film that there is little suspense for the audience. It does not help that the plot is also totally implausible.

Here, the students are not invincible. They occasionally get caught by the invigilators and are punished.

Perhaps the film could have further explored how examinations do not always reflect a student's aptitude - this is briefly touched on in the character of Grace, who is poor in her studies, but is a brilliant graphic designer.

Still, if the film is judged purely on entertainment value, the director passes with flying colours.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'Genius ways to beat the system '. Print Edition | Subscribe