An Education stars Carey Mulligan as Jenny, a sixteen year old British teenager bored with her suburban life and eager to go to Oxford where she aspires to read novels, go to concerts, and live a generally sophisticated life. Walking home from a cello practice after school she is stopped by a much older man in his car who offers her a lift home. His name is David (Peter Sarsgaard), and he can offer her everything she wants: trips to Paris, nights in swanky jazz clubs, paintings, and clothes. She begins to let her dreams of Oxford slide, preferring a life education to one of books. She cannot have both worlds, however, and must choose: Oxford or David.
Aside from a slightly disturbing scene involving a banana, An Education was one of the best films I have seen in a while. It was smart, funny, and the art direction was beautiful. (Not to mention a great soundtrack–Juliette Gréco and Duffy in one CD!) Nick Hornby (whom you probably know from About a Boy and High Fidelity) did a great job with the script, which is in fact based on a true story. Peter Sarsgaard was the perfect blend of charming and creepy, and I could feel half of myself begin to like him, even as the other half was completely creeped out. Rosamund Pike, whom you might know from Pride and Prejudice, was one of my favorite parts of the movie, as the unfailingly vapid Helen. Alfred Molina, who played Jenny’s father, really stood out to me as well. His funny moments were thoroughly enjoyable, but the scene when he is talking to Jenny through her door was so poignant and heartbreaking it was all I could do not to cry.
I am trying to find something I didn’t like about the movie, but not a lot comes to mind. If you are looking to escape from the mindless drivel that seems to be filling the theatres lately (*cough* New Moon), then head to The Egyptian and watch An Education. It’s one of the sharpest movies I’ve seen in a while.