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Overall Rating

Awesome: 44.44%
Worth A Look51.85%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 3.7%

3 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Education, An
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by William Goss

"About A Girl"
4 stars

Sheís sixteen years old, and sheís fallen for a man who looks like Peter Sarsgaard. We know that this canít end well.

Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is a smart girl, but she isnít old enough to know better. Sheís young enough to be restless, worn down by her parentsí pleas for her to pursue either higher learning at Oxford or a well-off man to marry. David (Sarsgaard) may not be loaded, but heís savvy, savvy enough to win over her initially skeptical mum and dad (Cara Seymour and Alfred Molina), and why? Because theyíve never seen a movie with Peter Sarsgaard before, of course. Itís only 1961 after all Ė he wouldnít be born for another ten years.

And though I digress, we wait nonetheless for the other shoe to drop in An Education, as Jenny is understandably swept up in Davidís sense of sophistication and worldly ways, and we too are taken by the prospect of a girl on the verge of womanhood and on the brink of finding something, anything in her future beyond learning how to teach or learning how to obey. Itís all too good to be true, and yet so good! Art auctions, jazz clubs, fur coatsÖ whatís a schoolgirl to do?

And so we watch and we learn, especially of what talents the young Ms. Mulligan has to share. 22 years old when the film was shot, she passes for a teenager with no trouble at all, particularly a teenager so clever and charming and charmed that she finds herself less than willing to assess Davidís shadier dealings and dodgier answers. After all, he loves Elger, and his friends love her, and her parents love him. Whatís not to love? She loves him, and the idea of him, and when it all comes crashing down, her Jenny is a changed girl for it, for better and for worse.

Director Lone Scherfig (Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself) effortlessly captures the post-war state of the suburbs thatís made Jenny restless and her elders complacent. Everythingís nice, but itís not Paris, which means that she and he and we do go there, itís that much more dreamy an escape. The production design is credible all around, allowing the romanticism of the circumstances dictate just how picture-perfect things mustíve seemed to our protagonist, and in adapting Lynn Barberís memoir, Nick Hornby incorporates enough bon mots to make everyone seem more clever than their real-life counterparts mightíve been and then enough heartbreak to make everyone seem every bit as wounded as their counterparts mustíve been.

We see Molina and Seymour let down their guard to this stranger, help put their daughterís future in his hands, and whatís worse is that we understand. They wanted to believe it too. And we see best buds Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike play along, content with their make-do lifestyle and far from first to volunteer for bubble-bursting duties. Instructor Olivia Williams and headmistress Emma Thompson both try to warn Jenny away from such proclivities, but look where it got them; itís no wonder she doesnít listen.

And Sarsgaard, for all his scheming, is shown to have strung Jenny along because he too wanted something better for himself, if at the cost of this girlís trust. He may be the most irresponsible of the bunch, but heís all drinking from the same cup of idealism that the sixties brought with it Ė new lives for a new era.

It may be a cup full of leaks, but at least in the here and now, we can relish what hope there is for a new leading lady and whatever further journeys she may take us on... so long as she keeps an eye out for any Sarsgaards.

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originally posted: 11/07/09 13:00:32
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/02/15 Catherine H beautiful, sensitive film which accurately evokes the era 5 stars
11/27/13 Shaun A Wonderfully acted piece made more powerful by it being based on real memoirs. 5 stars
1/19/11 millersxing Thank God that Sarsgaard isn't a scientologist or Carey would end up like Katie Holmes. 4 stars
5/18/10 Louise Love Carey's acting and the 60s style of the movie - loved it! 5 stars
2/12/10 ravenmad I walked away feeling I didn't waste my money. YES! 5 stars
12/28/09 jcanthony Great story with great acting 5 stars
11/11/09 Phineas YAY! Another "Thank God the 1960s Happened" bullshit movie! More Leftist LIES. 1 stars
10/15/09 JW Bright, cleverly written female coming-of-age story 4 stars
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  09-Oct-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 30-Mar-2010


  DVD: 30-Mar-2010

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