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An Education

A 2009 movie directed by Lone Scherfig.

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Who says getting an education is boring?

  • Feb 10, 2010
  • by
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.

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More An Education reviews
review by . April 29, 2010
The year is 1962, and sixteen-year old Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is a cello-playing student who hopes to attend Oxford. A chance meeting with a charming man twice her age quickly develops into a romance, opening up an exciting, glamorous world to the young girl.       This is a coming-of-age story with a wonderful script and a stellar cast. Young Carey Mulligan is pretty, funny, sensitive, and gutsy and has loads of charisma. She didn't look quite young enough but was still delightful. …
review by . March 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
An intelligent and ambitious young student meets a charming older man, who sweeps her off her feet with his lavish lifestyle, and very quickly threatens to jeopardize her dreams of studying at Oxford.    Carey Mulligan gives an admirably nuanced performance as the precocious 16-year-old Jenny, whose desire to escape her middle-class upbringing makes her ripe for seduction by the apparently world wise and street smart David, played intelligently by Peter Sarsgaard, who manages …
review by . February 27, 2010
posted in MovieSucktastic
 The Oscars just wouldn't feel right if there wasn't at least one obnoxious period-piece British romance to pander to the tastes of the more "sophisticated" members of the Academy. Surprisingly, even with the number of Best Picture nominees bloated to an inexcusable Ten this year, there's only one real qualifier among the chosen. Even more unusual, it takes place in a different decade instead of a different century. For the Academy's consideration: An Education.   …
Quick Tip by . October 07, 2010
posted in Screen Gems
Carey Mulligan who plays Jenny in this 1960s period piece is amazing. But her performance is nearly wasted in what amounts to a boring film that literally undoes itself with 6 words with just a few minutes to go. Watch for her only.
Quick Tip by . June 11, 2010
An excellent depiction of the travesty that occurs when the father is unreliable and ignorant and the mother is foolish.
Quick Tip by . May 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A very well acted coming of age drama that examines the relationship between a young female student who falls for an amoral older man.
review by . April 01, 2010
AN EDUCATION gleams as little film so polished in every aspect that it is quite memorable. Based on a memoir by Lynn Barber and adapted very smartly for the screen by the talented Nick Hornby, AN EDUCATION, like every aspect of the film, is an understated bit of life. It is basically a 1960s London coming of age story of a 16 year old bright young student Jenny (Carey Mulligan, a true find) who life is focused on passing exams to gain entrance into Oxford to read English. Her father Jack (Alfred …
About the reviewer
C R Swanson ()
   I'm an aspiring writer and reviewer. I run a blog, I'm working on a novel and spend my free time reading and playing video games. I also spend waaaaay too much time and money on movies. … more
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About this movie


An Education is a 2009 British coming-of-age drama film based on an autobiographical memoir of the same title written by the British journalist Lynn Barber. The film was directed by Lone Scherfig, with screenplay written by Nick Hornby, and features an ensemble cast including Emma Thompson, Peter Sarsgaard, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams and Carey Mulligan in the lead role.

An Education premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, gaining critical acclaim. It screened on 10 September 2009 at the Toronto International Film Festival and was featured at the Telluride by the Sea Film Festival in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on 19 September 2009. The film was shown on 9 October 2009, at the Mill Valley Film Festival. It went into theatrical release in the U.S. on October 16 and in the UK on October 30. On 2 February 2010 it was announced that the film had received three Academy Award Nominations in the categories of Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.

In England in 1961, following a youth orchestra rehearsal, Jenny Mellor, a schoolgirl, is given a lift home by a charming older man, David Goldman. The two strike up a relationship, which includes David's business partner Danny, and Danny's vapid mistress, Helen. David manages to charm Jenny's protective parents into allowing him to take her to concerts, jazz clubs, and even to Paris.

Jenny finds out that David makes money by moving black families into flats near elderly women ...
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Director: Lone Scherfig
Genre: Drama
Release Date: October 8, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Nick Hornby
DVD Release Date: March 30, 2010
Runtime: 100 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
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