If you want to see a pedophile conning the parents of his prey, this is the movie for you.
5 of 14 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jeanne S. (ijeanne) from FORT THOMAS, AZ Reviewed on 3/26/2010...
Excellent movie with a great performance from Carey Mulligan. So many great themes in this movie, and even though it's heartbreaking it still has a happy ending. Based on the book by Nick Hornby.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Who says getting an education is boring?
C. R. Swanson | Phoenix | 02/10/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Life is hard when you're sixteen and smarter than most of the people around you, especially when those people include your parents. You end up restless and bored much of the time and that, in combination with hormones, can cause you to sometimes do some very, very stupid things.
That's the situation Jenny (Oscar-nominated Carey Mulligan, best known to me from her role as Sally Sparrow), is in in An Education, the Oscar-nominated movie from director Lone Scherfig and writer Nick Hornby (known for such works as About a Boy. Watch it and realize that pudgy little boy grew up to be, oh, quite lovely). She's very much fed up with her life and when she meets an older man, David (played by the always reliable Peter Sarsgaard), who gives her the respect and attention no one else does.
From the start it's pretty clear what David wants from her, and it's quite clear Jenny is at least somewhat aware of this. She seems to be willing to go along with that in return for the gifts, the activities and a chance to be around people who are more "her sort".
David is a charming fellow, even able to get Jenny's parents to accept him and allow her to do things like accompany him to Oxford or Paris. Her father (played by the always reliable Alfred Molina), appears to be completely snowed. Her mother less so, though she's still willing to let her daughter go off with this man in his 30's.
David's charms are somewhat undone when Jenny finds out the various ways he makes a living, which include, but are not limited to, stealing valuable art from old women. Surprisingly, she's willing to go along with this, but eventually finds out something even more dark and unpleasant about David.
The film is intelligent and entertaining and paints David in a surprisingly sympathetic light until towards the very end. I say "surprisingly" because do let's remember Jenny is a minor and what he does with her is what's described as "statutory rape" in many places and is even called "rape of a child" in others. Of course this fact isn't really addressed, but it was always there in the back of my mind.
I also found the character of Jenny to be delightful! Very smart, very charismatic, but also vulnerable and not quite as world-weary as she likes to think of herself as being. Her character, and indeed the entire story, is based on a memoir by journalist Lynn Barber. If there's more about Barber's life that she can turn into stories, I'd enjoy that. I'd like to see Jenny again.
It's somewhat hard to classify this movie. It's not a comedy, it's not a drama. It's certainly not a romantic comedy. It probably fits into that tired non-genre genre of "coming of age". I think I'll settle for just calling it "very good" and leave it at that."
A Wonderful Education!
Zenful | 01/10/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Superb! Wonderful story, excellent acting (unexpected performance from Peter Saarsgard), surprise appearance from Emma Thompson in a supporting role (I am guilty of adoring her - she can do no wrong in my book, even in Harry Potter.)
I typically love English coming of age stories and this is why, they do not disappoint. What a treat - great story telling infused with the credibility of fine acting and accesorized with vistas from the English countryside and Paris.
The lead actress is a better version of Katie Holmes at her age, I think she is headed for great things. She has truly mastered the ability to both play an intellectually superior and tenderly cocky adolescent - most often with facial expression- but equally be a fragile child in the presence of Peter's character. Ah-ha and I just looked her up after writing that, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for this role. :)
This is an enjoyable film for anyone with an interest in the topic."
A coming of age story (and my favorite movie of 2009)
Carrie LaGree | Albany, NY | 01/01/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An Education is based on Lynn Barber's memoir. Nick Hornby wrote the screenplay. Carey Mulligan is nominated for a Golden Globe for best actress (and many other acting awards). The entire cast is nominated for the Screen Actors Guild award.
The barest of plot details: The film is set outside London in 1962. Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is sixteen, and one of the brightest students at her private girl's school. She wants to go to Oxford to read English literature. She meets a charming, friendly, older man.
This film is perhaps the perfect coming of age story. Yes, I realize what a strong statement that is. Lynn Barber's story is not necessarily unique, yet it is a product of the time she was raised. Still, as someone who came of age in the 1990's United States rather than the 1960's Britain, it could have been my story. It is the perfect coming of age story because this dichotomy between uniqueness and everywoman-ness.
Carey Mulligan is fantastic, but Peter Sarsgaard was mesmerizing. He completely nailed the British accent; I immediately checked [...] to see if he was, in fact, British. The entire cast is amazing, and the casting director deserves kudos as well. Rarely does one see a cast without a weak link. It's easily the best movie I've seen this year, and although there is some hesitation to such a bold statement, it is one of my favorite movies of all time. I'll see how well it stand up with time and multiple viewings, but this one is a modern classic. It's brilliant, moving, funny (Nick Hornby, remember) and immensely watchable and re-watchable. With the Oscars opening Best Picture to ten films this year, this one may have a shot at a nomination, and I hope it does.
Seriously, it's the best movie I saw in 2009."
Growing up is hard to do.
E. Bukowsky | NY United States | 12/21/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
""An Education," directed by Lone Scherfig from a screenplay by Nick Hornby, takes place in London in the early sixties. Jenny Mellor, played by Carey Mulligan, is a bright, middle-class high school girl whose goal is to read English at Oxford University. Although Jenny's father, Jack (Alfred Molina), loves his only child, he is an excitable and bombastic individual who constantly reminds his family how much everything costs. Jack's wife, Marjorie, calmly looks on while her husband rants and raves. Jenny appears to have a bright future ahead of her. She studies Latin, is well-versed in literature, plays the cello, speaks French, and dreams of leaving Twickenham, the London suburb where her family resides.
One rainy day, Jenny is offered a ride by David Goldman (Peter Sarsgaard), a handsome man in his thirties. He soon asks her out and charms her parents so thoroughly that they permit her to spend time with him. He buys Jenny new clothes, takes her to night clubs and concerts, and even whisks her off to Paris with his sophisticated cronies. Jenny is so enamored of David and is having so much fun that she puts her studies and her ambitions for a college education on hold.
This film may be viewed as a coming-of-age story, but it is really less than that. It is a depressing tale of how a worldly man takes advantage of a naïve and easily dazzled teenager. Although all the actors turn in competent performances, the film ultimately falls flat. It is unthinkable that Jenny's bourgeois parents would let their daughter gallivant around with a man whom they barely know. Nor is it plausible that a bright girl like Jenny would be so foolish as to believe that she could have a future with a man more than twice her age.
Emma Thompson has a thankless role as Jenny's prissy and prejudiced headmistress, and Rosamund Pike is Helen, David's brainless and glamorous friend, who teaches Jenny how to dress fashionably and apply makeup. Olivia Williams plays Miss Stubbs, Jenny's stern English teacher, and she is one of the film's few bright spots. Miss Stubbs genuinely wants what is best for her prize pupil and is aghast to learn that this promising young lady may be about to throw away her future. Although Sarsgaard gives David an occasional bit of shading, his character is basically a sleaze. It is cringe-inducing to watch him beguile the inexperienced Jenny, who learns the hard way that there are no short-cuts to becoming an adult. "
AN EDUCATION Teaches Life Lessons
C. Tsao | Baltimore, MD USA | 03/05/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Based on a memoir by Lynn Barber, supposedly this script, adapted by novelist Nick Hornby (About a Boy), was one of the great unproduced movies in Britain. Well no more. A winning performance by newcomer Carey Mulligan realizes a complex character in An Education, a fascinating study of growing up quickly in an adult world.
Following some dazzling opening credits, we see a teenage girl, Jenny (Mulligan), who is attending high school in the suburbs of London in 1961. Prodded by her parents to study hard and take cello, they dream of her acceptance to Oxford University and becoming financially secure. A top student, she desperately wants to break out of her routine and, instead, attend concerts, art galleries, and experience more of the world. Her parents feel otherwise. One rainy day, a handsome, older man named David (Peter Sarsgaard) drives up and offers her a lift home. David is a student of life. He attracts and fascinates her, and what starts innocently as an unlikely friendship develops into a deeper relationship. He is adept at charming her parents into letting her exceed her curfew and boundaries, and Jenny gets to go to an art auction, Oxford campus, and in time, even a romantic Paris getaway complete with a sunset by the River Seine.
Despite the overtures of a fellow student, Graham, he is no match for the sophisticated, mature, and apparently wealthy David. Jenny becomes self assured and even insubordinate to her teachers and principal despite their warnings and protestations. She revels in her new life with David and his carefree friends Danny and Helen, and the foursome venture into the night for partying and taking in the highlife. As romance deepens and her defiance of authority and protocol increases, can marriage be far behind, and how will Jenny's parents react?
David is a mystery as are his motives. What does he do for a living, and is he for real? Perhaps his carefree life is not as glamorous as it seems. As Jenny finds out, life can be full of joy and surprises, and one moment she can be master of her own fate and the next instant everything could come shattering down around her. As much as her world has broadened and expanded, she also learns about humility and contrition. Such is the education of a girl learning about herself at a crucial moment in her life.
Director Lone Scherfig does a splendid job of telling a coming of age tale that hits the right notes. What this film does well is to put us inside the head of Jenny. We feel her yearnings and frustrations. We experience her highs and exhilaration at finding a life beyond her home. We also hurt when morality is twisted and she is disappointed and betrayed. That's not just good writing (which it really is); it's a well directed ensemble of talented actors starting with Mulligan. Production values are modest, but the period costumes and background music are infectious and authentic.
Sarsgaard (Kinsey, Jarhead) is quite magnetic as the manipulative David and inflects a convincing British accent. His scenes with Mulligan are affecting and sustain interest. Alfred Molina is good as Jenny's stern father, while Emma Thompson is on too briefly as a proper school principal. Olivia Williams is effective as a teacher who will play a significant role in Jenny's future.
Aside from its portrayal of a teenager, the film depicts the apparently limited options for a graduating female at the time. She either could excel academically and get a job, or she could find a husband who could take care of her. It is interesting how Jenny's parents are motivated by this mode of thinking and how it guides their actions. There is an aspect to the story which borders on statutory laws regarding sex with a girl who is barely of adult age. The storytellers finesse their way around this and focus on the relationship and do a tasteful job in minimizing the lurid possibilities. Subtle hints of racism are folded into the narrative, this being the 1960's.
In the end, it is Carey Mulligan in a star making turn as the idealistic teen who matures ahead of her own time and learns about life the hard way. Love that poster. "