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An Education
Genre Drama
Year: 2009

An Education is the story of Jenny, a precocious teenage girl living in suburban London in the 1960s. This coming-of-age drama deals with her transition from school girl to refined woman, as a well-to-do suitor nearly twice her age sweeps her off her feet. The education she receives is one on morality, ethics and coping in the big bad world. While the premise does open itself to teen exploitation in the same league of The Babysitters, it's mild in comparison with Lolita and is as prim and proper as an aristocrat's tea party.

Carey Mulligan is Jenny, and steals the show with her terrific debut performance as the young, not-so-innocent 16-year-old. Her dark brooding performance is composed from teenage angst and a side order of ice-cream parlor decadence as she aspires to be wiser in the ways of the world and more French of course. French music, Parisian holidays... are all a distant dream, until David (Sarsgaard) arrives on scene.

Jenny's father (Molina) couldn't be more pleased that his daughter is dating a man twice her age. David's charms are no match for her parent's practical sensibilities, and it's a matter of hook, line, sinker... rod and fisherman. The young gentleman knows his wines, is accommodating on curfews and generous with invitations. However, all is not as it seems on the surface of things as Jenny discovers another side to the gentleman's pristine character.

An Education is a compelling drama based on the memoir of Lynn Barber, which shows Jenny as she learns life lessons at home, at school and even in love. Carey Mulligan's performance holds the film together, with a fine supporting cast in the charming Peter Sarsgaard, the cost-efficient Alfred Molina, the ditzy Rosamund Pike, the worldly Dominic Cooper and the watchful Olivia Williams. It's a terrific ensemble of actors, who give Mulligan a platform to shine.

Danish director, Lone Scherfiq, weaves her magic into the drama as the cast play off one another. The adaptation roots itself in a memoir and the story is engaging, because it mimics the ebb-and-flow of reality without pushing the audience too far. An Education is almost in the same class of History Boys, Notes on a Scandal and American Beauty. The film really immerses you in the '60s with the sets, fashion and Zeitgeist on the cusp of a social revolution and this is an excellent environment for drama in young Jenny's life.

The bottom line: Engaging.



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