An Education: Movie Review
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina,
Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams, Emma Thompson.
Director: Lone Scherfig
Based on Lyn Barber's memoir, An Education explores the relationship between
a 16-year-old school girl, Jenny (Carey Mulligan), and her thirty-ish suitor,
David (Peter Sarsgaard).
Still several years off the "swinging sixties" movement which defined the
decade, early 1960s London was drab, conservative and much to Jenny's chagrin,
Jenny is a talented and popular student on track to securing her father's
dream of going to Oxford. Beyond university she dreams of living in Paris - a
far cry from her monotonous existence in suburban London.
When David offers Jenny a lift home, she quickly responds to his flair for
adventure. David and his friends are cultured, witty and rich and live life with
a firm emphasis on having fun.
David deftly charms his way into Jenny's home, and simultaneously impresses
and alienates Jenny's parents by whisking her off on adventures they would never
Having completed his seduction, David's carefully managed façade inevitably
begins to unravel, leaving Jenny to reconsider her own dreams and goals.
As Jenny, Carey Mulligan is flawless. It is her performance alone which
elevates An Education above traditional Sunday evening telly fare. Mulligan
steers clear of traditional teen angst and instead plays Jenny as a conflicted
character, unsure yet argumentative, smitten yet wary.
Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity) adapted Barber's 12-page memoir into
a film script. The supporting actors do their best with the at times
cringe-worthy material (particularly Peter Saarsgard, who is required to
initiate a sex scene with a banana).
In spite of the cast's best efforts, An Education remains an inoffensive,
somewhat uninspired coming-of-age drama.