— by MARIUSZ ZUBROWSKI —
The new limited-release film “An Education” is a fresh coming-of-age film that is boosted by a powerhouse performance.
That performance comes not from an Academy Award-winning actress, but from Carey Mulligan, a relative newcomer who stars as Jenny, a high-school student who comes across an older gentleman by the name of David (Peter Sasgaard).
He first presents himself as a music enthusiast who is worried for the state of Jenny’s cello during the hard rainfall, but the relationship between the two of them becomes much deeper. It is through that relationship that Jenny blossoms into a woman.
Jenny is a 16-year-old high school student in 1960s England. She enjoys speaking French and playing cello, even though her parents disapprove because of their desire to get her into Oxford University. David, however, got a diploma in the “University of Life.” Once he meets Jenny, he invites her to a night of classical music followed by some supper. Though reluctant at first, she accepts and later tells her mother that it was “the best night of her life.”
This was just the beginning of a relationship that would change Jenny’s understanding of the world. Her priorities are rearranged as she becomes more infatuated with the older David as he invites her into a peek at the world of the upper-class.
This coming-of-age story can be compared to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” where, just like Jenny, the main character Bernice loosens up on her traditional approach on life and thus blossoms into something more.
The acting is a bit of a rollercoaster. Carey Mulligan, though the least experienced of the cast, is the definite peak, but the acting of others (such as the actor who played David’s friend) came off as amateurish. Peter Sasgaard does a great job at playing David, who becomes more and more interesting as the film progresses. Alfred Molina, who played Doctor Octopus in “Spider-Man 2,” deserves an honorable mention as the father of Jenny, who though stubborn, offers a whimsical line in between his nagging of Jenny to get into the prestigious school Oxford.
Character development is paced excellently and the script is flawless and intelligent. The atmosphere generates a feel for 1960s England, and everything is just top-notch.
“An Education” is destined to be the starting point for Carey Mulligan’s success, but others such as Sasgaard and Molina are well-cast and well-acted. Pair acting along with writing that is both quirky and dramatic and excellent pacing and you get a film that does not offer a dull moment.
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Bonus: Click here to view a scene from “An Education.”
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