Corey Trench's Blog: My Growing Life

Film Review: An Education

“Girls, they want to have fun.  Oh girls just want to have fun.”

Meet Jenny, the main protagonist in An Education, a film directed by Lone Scherfig and adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby.  Jenny (played by newcomer Carey Mulligan) is bored.  She lives in suburban London in the 1960s, attends an all-girls school, studies Latin every night, plays cello, and is ALWAYS in bed by 10pm.  Her parents are upscale, traditional, and seemingly dull.  Her father, played by veteran actor Alfred Molia, doesn’t understand Jenny’s passion for attending concerts and love of French culture (she sings to Juliette Greco records in her room).  He just wants her to get into Oxford.

An Eduction Poster

As you can imagine, Jenny gets more than a little swept off her feet once an older man named David, played by Peter Sarsgaard, comes into her life.  He’s charming, goes out to concerts and fine restaurants, loves the arts, and most importantly of all, wants to take Jenny to Paris.  What more could a 16-year old girl want?  He lives a fantastic life and she wants to be along for the ride.  However, the romance gets much more serious when David reveals that he’s not all that he appears to be.

Writer Nick Hornby adapted An Education from the memoir of Lynn Barber, the real life Jenny, who learned a great deal about personal liasons with older men.  He characterizes her 16-year year old self as a young girl who desires to be a woman.  When they’re alone the bedroom, Jenny tells David: “I want you to treat me like a grownup.”  But make no mistake, she still plays into David’s grand deceptions throughout the film.  And even when he reveals his underhanded ways, Jenny remains complacent.  After all, it’s all about having fun at this point.

Lynn Barber Photograph

Lynn Barber as a teenager.

Jenny reminds me of a time in my own youth when I was only thinking about the present and when everything was just about fun.  Why bother with such trivial things as your future?  You fail to see the point in such things when you’re that young.  Jenny pontificates to her headmistress (Emma Thompson): “If people die the moment that they graduate, then surely it’s the things we do beforehand that count.”

After viewing the film, I can honestly say that Carey Mulligan definitely has a shot at a Oscar nomination for Best Actress.  Her performance is arresting and captivating.  It was a bold decision to choose a little known actress such as herself for the lead, but she inhabits her role with a deep conviction that envelops complete verisimilitude. Hopefully, you will see more from her in the future.

Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan as Jenny in "An Education".

Novelist Nick Hornby presents a beautifully written screenplay with great dialog. My only complaint would have to be the tail end of the third act. Hornby admits that he wanted to give the story that “close call” feeling for Jenny as tries to put her life back together after the fallout with David.  It just might be a little bit too contrived. Any regular cinema goer will have already predicted the end-result of Jenny’s struggle before the ending credits start to roll.

But much like the film, the most enjoyable part of life is the journey, not the destination.


1 Comment so far
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I thought the guy in the picture was you at first. Thought you had made it to the big screen.

Comment by Suzy

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