In 1980 Madrid, young movie director Enrique Goded is looking for his next project. He gets the unexpected visit of an actor looking for work. The actor says he's Enrique's boarding school friend and first love, Ignacio Rodriguez. Ignacio, who is now using the name Ángel Andrade, has brought with him a short story titled The Visit. Ignacio hopes Enrique would be interested in making a movie out of it, and give him the starring role.
The Visit is set in 1977. It tells of a drag artist and transgender woman named Zahara. Her birth name is Ignacio. Zahara plans to rob a drunk admirer. But she then discovers the man is her lover Enrique.
Next, she visits her old school and meets Father Manolo. Manolo abused her when she was a boy. She asks for one million pesetas (Spanish currency) for halting publication of her story The Visit. The story is set around a boarding school for boys in 1964. At the school, Ignacio, a young boy with a beautiful singing voice, is an object of lust from Father Manolo, the school principal and literature teacher.
Enrique wants to adapt Ignacio’s story into a movie. But Ángel's condition is that he play the part of Zahara, the transgender lead. However, Enrique is skeptical. He feels the Ignacio he loved and the Ignacio of today are totally different people. He (Enrique) drives to Galicia. That's when he learns from Ignacio's mother that the real Ignacio has been dead for four years. He also learns that the man who came to his office is Ignacio's younger brother Juan.
In the book, it is said that Enrique releases his movie later and has great success. Despite the grief and guilt of his brother, Juan also has success.
- Gael García Bernal as Juan / Ángel Andrade / Zahara. García was required to display a convincing Castilian Spanish accent before being cast.
- Fele Martínez as Enrique Goded
- Raúl García Forneiro as young Enrique
- Daniel Giménez Cacho as Father Manolo
- Javier Cámara as Paca/Paquito
- Petra Martínez as Mother
- Leonor Watling as Monica, wardrobe girl
- Lluís Homar as Sr. Manuel Berenguer
- Francisco Boira as Ignacio
- Nacho Pérez as young Ignacio
- Juan Fernández as Martín
- Alberto Ferreiro as Enrique Serrano
Bad Education was given an NC-17 rating for "a scene of explicit sexual content". A special edition R-rated version was released later.
The movie opened at the 57th Cannes Film Festival. It was the first Spanish movie to do this.
The movie opened in theaters in the United States on November 19, 2004. It made USD $147,370 in its opening weekend. At the end of its theatrical run (106 theaters), it had taken in over $5.2 million in the U.S. and Canada. It also took in over $35 million overseas. The total was over $40 million. The movie's budget was near $5 million.