Thursday, February 11, 2010

Film Review - An Education

Film #19 of 2010 - An Education
Based on a memoir by Lynne Barber and adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby, An Education takes place in the early 1960's on the cusp of Jenny's (Carey Mulligan) 17th birthday. Her ambition, backed by her very zealous father, Jack (Alfred Molina) is to attend Oxford University, and in preparation, and out of general interest, Jenny surrounds herself in academia and culture. One day, while waiting for a bus with her cello in the rain, she meets David (Peter Sarsgaard), an older man who offers her a ride home. After a couple of chance meetings around the neighborhood, David asks her out to the symphony with his friends, which, after beguiling Jenny's parents, leads to a full blown relationship that becomes quite serious, quite quickly. Jenny is left with the decision to continue her path to Oxford, or continue living the exciting life full of culture and travel she is experiencing with David.

I really loved a lot of things about An Education: the cerebral themes, the characters and the style of the film among them. I loved that Jenny came from a family where she's not only encouraged to succeed and achieve intellectual greatness, but this was the 1960's when a lot of women went to college for their MRS degree, and that was about it. I loved this bit of feminism and independence, especially since she was supported by her family, namely her father. The aesthetic of An Education was breathtaking. Though some of the hair styles were clearly from the 1960's (or present day Southern child beauty pageants) the costumes were mostly timeless and classy. There were so many times during the film where I sat there thinking, "Of course I know this is just a movie, but I want to be one of these people!"

Though An Education was entertaining and thought-provoking on its own merits, it could not have been as successful had it not been for Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan. Sarsgaard plays David as charming, respectful and doting, and he is really good at it. His complete desirability made his character evolvement all the more surprising. Much has been said about Mulligan's portrayal of Jenny; she was absolutely luminous and fantastic. Mulligan captures Jenny's maturity, cleverness and intellectual hunger, but she portrays her with such a fresh faced and innocent approach that she truly was one of the most fleshed out and well-rounded characters I've witnessed in a modern film in some time. She completely absorbs the character and is truly the greatest thing about a very good film. I am so glad that, after kicking around without a filmmaker for a while, the screenplay finally got made, because I really liked An Education a lot.

4 out of 5 stars

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