I finally got around to seeing the Oscar nominated An Education. I pretty much knew I’d love the film, and lo and behold I did!
The movie is about Jenny (Carey Mulligan), a 16-year-old girl growing in England in the 1960s. This is around a time when women weren’t really encouraged to attend college. But Jenny is extremely intelligent and has potential at being a scholar and not just a housewife. She is a little fed up with school and feels oppressed by both her parents and teachers. She meets David (Peter Sarsgaard), a much older, wiser man. She is infatuated by him but eventually learns he isn’t who she thought he was.
I loved all the characters in this film and the way they worked together. All the comments about Mulligan being a standout are true. She made this movie, with her mature acting skills and witty delivery of lines. I could identify with her character very well because being a young female in a male-dominated world is stressful. Sarsgaard has been one of my favorites for a long time. He plays very well the attractive, mysterious role. His character is very likeable at first, I found myself being seduced into liking him, just like Jenny. But as the viewer, and Jenny, get to know him better he turns into a despicable character very quickly. The two main characters worked well together and seemed to have chemistry. Mulligan portrayed perfectly the influence an older man can have on a naive girl.
Alfred Molina as Jenny’s father was perfect. He tried to be a mix between a hard ass father and a sweet pushover. I think that’s why his character was so accurate because parents constantly switch back and forth between good cop, bad cop. It was funny how even Molina’s character could be somewhat seduced by the smooth-talking David. David’s two older friends that Jenny gets to know were fun characters to watch but overall were flat, which I think was the point. Jenny and her main teacher, Miss Stubbs (Olivia Williams) had an interesting dynamic. The scenes with Miss Stubbs was basically Jenny looking into the future and seeing what was in store for herself.
The movie was directed by Lone Scherfig, a female from Denmark. I’m not familiar with her other works but it’s good to see a female director with a successful mainstream film. The themes in this film, whether it was sex, relationships, betrayal, parents, school, etc. were mature and it was interesting to see Jenny deal with them and eventually prosper.