Starring: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Olivia WIlliams, Dominic Cooper, Emma Thompson, Alfred Molina
Director: Lone Scherfig
Writer(s): Nick Hornby, Lynn Barber
Cinematography: John De Borman
Original Score: Paul Englishby
Running Time: 95 Mins.
Upon watching An Education throughout I had but two thought’s running through my head, firstly that it was really rather good overcoming my expectations that I was in for just another British coming of age kitchen sink drama and secondly, and more surprisingly, that The Daily Mail hasn’t had more to say about the rather unethical central romance that in many director’s, and indeed writer’s, hands could have felt rather more seedy.
Written by Nick Hornby, best known for his novels including About A Boy and High Fidelity, An Education is adapted from a memoir and somewhat glamourises it from what I have read elsewhere, that in itself proves not to be a problem though as spun out as it is, we could not have wished for a more fulfilling film. Yes it is essentially a coming of age drama but there are hugely enjoyable layers with characters written so that they are not just grittily real as is often the case, but have a sense of fun and warmth to them, often lacking in films such as this.
The talking point as far as performance goes has to be newcomer Carey Mulligan, playing the 16 year old Jenny, she portrays Jenny not as a lost waif but as a strong willed person open to the experience of life, torn between the prospect of getting into Oxford to read English (as her father pushes towards) and the want to do soemthing more with her life than get old and boring, so to seemingly help make this decision enter’s David into Jenny’s life, a charming man twice Jenny’s age, it is to Sarsgaard’s credit that manages to always make David likeable and never creepy. Even when he asks Jenny to remove her top to “have a look”, there is the sense that this is a respectful man, however there is always that underlying sinister feeling that there is more to David than the surface charm would suggest.
As An Eductaion moves along at a brisk pace, it does so in a way that keeps you interested, and while you always have a feeling that David’s secrets will out, and they do, it doesn;t feel like a join the dots exercise while never really pushing any boundaries or leading to a twist as such. The film does not appear to frown upon Peter for his (eventually rather large) misgiving’s but it equally doesn’t seem to want us to make a judgement call on Jenny either, that she is sucked into Peter’s glamorous world that includes friends Danny (Cooper) and Helen (Rosamund Pike) is totally believeable especially given the lenths they will go to to achieve the lifestyle.
If the film has an issue it is that David’s charm would have won over Jenny’s parents quite as easily as it appears too, after only two meetings she is allowed to go on weekends away to Paris, seemingly because he is polite and well spoken and apparently has money, so while Molina is brilliant as Jenny’s father his performance is somewhat undermined by the disbelief I felt as the relationship between David and the parent’s wasn’t shown to be a little more sunstantial than just the wow factor. That said, if it were covered in mroe detail the sense of pace may have been lost for a largely needless plot expansion.
An Education doesn’t break boundaries, but what it does do is present a solid coming of age drama with a hugely enjoyable edge, and overcoming a rather large taboo by making its character’s both believeable and warm despite theri scruples.