Synopsis: An Education is a story of how a teenage girls life changes when she meets a playboy twice her age.
Release Date: October 9, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, Romance
“All that poetry and all those songs for something that lasts no time at all.” Seventeen-year-old Jenny, played by an amazing Carey Mulligan in a breakthrough performance, says this line after her first experience with sex in An Education. She isn’t necessarily disappointed, but rather enlightened with a new perspective. It’s as if at that very moment she realizes that losing one’s virginity is not the end all of becoming a woman, but merely one of the many unrelenting life experiences to come. Jenny matures right before the audience’s eyes in a matter of seconds and it’s truly a cinematic miracle to behold. The viewer is fortunate enough to witness several similar moments of instantaneous clarity as An Education is a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s London, a time when life was still quite Victorian as the Beatles had yet to arrive on the scene.
The primary vehicle in which Jenny receives the majority of her education is not via school but through her relationship with an older man twice her age (Peter Sarsgaard). The situation would be questionably creepy if not everyone, including Jenny’s own parents, was so accepting of the circumstances. It is indeed true that coming-of-age stories have been done dozens of times before, but it’s been a while since it’s been done with such precise simplicity, sophistication, and class. An Education comments on the merits of going to school vs. living life, the 1960s costumes, and production design are flawless, but whom we really adore is Jenny. Near the end of An Education, she states, “I feel old. But not very wise.” Jenny knows she still has a lot more to learn despite everything she’s been through. We only wish we could continue to follow her education because the few lessons we’ve shared with her so far have been near perfect.
Peter Sarsgaard plays the role of a charming and somewhat creepy older man well in An Education, Alfred Molina is fantastic as the conservative and caring father, but ultimately, the main reason to go out and see An Education is Carey Mulligan. Her performance as Jenny is an absolute blessing. In the transition from sixteen-year-old to seventeen-year-old, Jenny goes from sophisticated innocence to gratefully experienced and Carey Mulligan makes us believe in both of those girls as well as all of the other stages of Jenny in between. She plays the role with such natural elegance and sincerity that it becomes impossible not to sit back in awe and simply believe in every emotion and subtle transformation her character goes through.
Whether it be sheer enjoyment to heartbreak, weary to awakened, Mulligan is just as graceful in Jenny’s moments of strength as she is in Jenny’s moments of utmost vulnerability. This is a performance not to be missed and an actress to keep your eye on in the years to come. Don’t be surprised to hear young Carey Mulligan’s name multiple times during awards season or if you happen to see her cross the stage to collect her Oscar.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Lone Scherfig
- Screenwriter: Nick Hornby
- Cast: Carey Mulligan (Jenny), Olivia Williams (Miss Stubbs), Alfred Molina (Jack), Peter Sarsgaard (David)
- Other Crew: Barney Pilling, John de Borman, Andrew McAlpine, Odile Dicks-Mireaux, Paul Englishby