Education or a weekend in Paris… it’s a no-brainer
Directed by: Lone Scherfig
Written by: Nick Hornby (screenplay), Lynn Barber (memoir)
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard and Alfred Molina
Life for Jenny (Mulligan) begins at Oxford University. Or at least this is what the ambitious, smart and pretty sixteen year old likes to believe as she makes plans to smoke, speak French and go to fabulous concerts and parties once she is accepted into the prestigious world of academia. But when effortlessly charming David (Sarsgaard) comes into her life, a world of fun, culture and beauty is opened up to Jenny, making it incredibly tempting to drop her books and run away with this mysterious but magnetic, and much older man.
Like Fish Tank, An Education beautifully represents the struggles, emotions and experiences of an adolescent girl. While comedy has always thrived on the experiences of adolescent men, discovering sex and following their instinctual urges into bouts of trouble and embarrassing situations, it seems girls are given a much more subtle, dramatic and heart-wrenching treatment as growing up is a lot harder than it looks. In An Education, the character of Jenny and her self-conscious awareness of the cracks in her life make for a deeply involving and engaging story. The chemistry between Sarsgaard and Mulligan has an uncertain, nervous and yet, poignant touch to the notion of love, and makes the twist at the end of the film all the more powerful. You will be left speechless regardless of whether you think the film turned out predictable or not.
The impressive quality of the film, before the last ten or so minutes till the end, is then enough to steer your disappointment away from a rather hurried ending that all-too neatly covers up the journey we’ve been on with Jenny, leaves questions unanswered and feels rather lazy for what was such a wonderful film.
With a combination of complex, perfectly portayed characters and a delicate, but powerful story about a changing and growing woman, An Education is a captivating film that feels like a satisfying novel read.