An Education is a coming-of-age tale about a sixteen year old girl in early sixties London. After World War II, but before The Beatles, London seemed to be a pretty boring place. Luckily for us, a fresh and unique story can come from this exact setting and make you feel a colorful spectrum of emotions. After getting critical acclaim from the Sundance Film Festival, Kansas City finally gets An Education.
The story all revolves around a girl named Jenny, who is working hard to get into Oxford University, but she isn’t truly excited to move on to this next stage in her life. She is dedicated to her studies, works hard and does well, although being berated by her parents about every little thing. So, one day, after orchestra rehearsal, it begins to downpour while she’s walking home. A seemingly nice and normal gentleman, named David, stops his car and offers to save her and her cello from the relentless rain, plus to give her a ride home.
At this point, every good parent should be pulling their hair out, but this stranger is legitimately nice. Once she accepts his offer, they talk about music and concerts and this begins a blossoming romance between them. A big factor of creepiness in the beginning of the story is that he is around thirty five and she is only sixteen. He’s charming, intelligent and quick spoken, making him able to smooth-talk everyone he meets. After a few run-ins in the neighborhood, she has her first date with him and soon he convinces Jenny’s parents to let him take her out on several little dates, escalating to a trip to Oxford and even Paris. The rest of the movie dwells on what she experiences with David and playing grown-up with his friends. Unfortunately, as Robert Frost fans know, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” There ends up being a few complications with their dazzling and glamorous relationship, which cause the major conflicts during the story.
The plot, although moving at a fairly slow pace, is perfect for the story. You get very attached to the characters and you hope that everything can just work out for Jenny. Seriously, right off the bat you’re attached to Jenny and during the whole first half of the movie, I thought that something horrible was going to happen. The music combined with the fact that she was riding with a stranger, who now knows where she lives, made me very uncomfortable. Thankfully, none of the characters have the misfortune of dying in this movie. The dialogue was very quick and funny, which kept you smiling through most of the film. I was really glad that this wasn’t as serious as I had been lead to believe; the humor was steady throughout the film and never got old.
Now, this movie is definitely British. Honestly, for the first few minutes I was afraid of not being able to review it, because I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying. Fortunately, it clears up very quickly and I didn’t have any problem understanding the actors throughout the rest of the movie. Please, don’t think of this as a bad thing! I’m just mentioning the fact because I didn’t know that about the movie until I was seated in the theatre. Still, don’t be surprised to hear “cheerio” a few times.
The acting is absolutely superb from the entire cast. Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard are brilliant in their roles, along with Alfred Molina and Rosamund Pike’s hilarious performance. I mean, I’d literally have to list everyone in the movie just to tell you who did a great job. Emma Thompson and Olivia Williams are great as Jenny’s headmistress and teacher. It was stunning to see how everyone put their best foot forward, making the characters as real as you and I. Carey Mulligan did an especially moving performance, truly portraying the emotions and conflicts of being so young and thrust into a very adult world.
The cinematography was also very well done in this movie. They had a lot of great shots that were able to inspire emotion, just from seeing it. Hell, it even won the Cinematography award at Sundance. Another interesting choice that was made is that they didn’t use much period music. There were a few scenes taking place in jazz clubs, with the music playing or scenes with them listening to a record, but other than that, the music was mostly a great compilation of tracks that supported the emotion of the scene and helped keep you focused on the events at hand.
I really only had one complaint. The entire film is taken at a slower pace, which was great for the story, but near the end it completely mixed it up. The movie runs about an hour and a half, but the entire film is wrapped up in the last four or five minutes. I felt like, after such a well paced movie, they were forced to end it way too quickly. The events that close out the film could have easily spanned for another half an hour or so, and I would’ve gladly sat through them. I wish that they could have thoroughly explained all of the events and told how they happened, but it seemed like a bare-bones ending to a very deep movie.
A note to the guys: Alright, I know that this seems like a movie that you will get dragged to by your girlfriend or wife. I’ll admit, nothing explodes, nobody dies and it’s about a girl becoming a woman. I’m being serious, though, it’s a great movie! Please, don’t let preconceptions of being a tough guy get in the way of you seeing a spectacular film. Just sit down, enjoy a movie and earn some brownie points with your gal.
Overall, this movie has an interesting story to tell, quick and witty humor, superb acting, and characters that you can actually relate to. I can’t find any reason not to suggest this to any type of person. Aside from the all too quick ending, this movie is a great way to spend a few dollars and an evening.
I give An Education 5 “Bananas” out of 5