Sunday, December 20, 2009
Movie Review: An Education
People are very often completely different than what they seem. In the British film An Education, by Dogma director Lone Scherfig, young 16-year-old Jenny learns that the hard way.
An Education follows the story of school girl Jenny. Jenny makes straight A's and is on the fast track to Oxford till she meets David, an older man with a cool car and a passport to all the exciting things that Jenny's parents shelter her from. Jenny goes along with this man, even though she knows that the relationship is no good, but she is fascinated by the world in which David lives in and is willing to put up with it, even if it destroys everything she's ever worked for in her life.
The film is based on a memoir by British journalist Lynn Barber with a script filled with sizzling dialogue by Nick Hornby, and it's believable that something such as this could have happened, especially back in the pre-Vietnam era. While most parents nowadays would have objections with their 16-year-old daughter going out with a 30-something man, Jenny's parents are so fascinated by David's charm and wealth that they can't see the user that he really is. Really, Jenny's parents are kind of the hinge that make this entire film work. Of course, I'd actually venture to say the entire ensemble of actors is what makes the film work.
I think this film is more of an actor's showcase than anything else. Carey Mulligan is simply marvelous as Jenny, she plays her with this kind of attitude that she knows what she is doing, rather than playing the part awkwardly and acting like a doe-eyed innocent. As well, the film is filled out with marvelous character actors, from Alfred Molina as Jenny's father, to Peter Sarsgaard as David, all the way to Olivia Williams and Emma Thompson as Jenny's teachers at her all girl prep school.
The film is a touch uncomfortable at times because of its subject matter, and if anything that detracts from the enjoyment, but at the same time it is the right way to handle such subject matter. They play the entire film kind of like a light mystery/thriller, you know something isn't right about David and you're just waiting the entire film to see what that is. When you finally learn, you feel crushed, the same as Jenny, which results in one of the more touching scenes of cinema this year, where Jenny's father tries to console her through the door of her closed bedroom door. This scene alone should be enough to win Molina and Mulligan Oscars.
All in all, you actually feel something while watching this film, which is something that not many movies have managed to do this year.
I give An Education a 9 out of 10!