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08.08.2010- Film Review: An Education

An Education (2009), directed by Lone Scherfig.

Last weekend I finally got round to watching An Education, after snapping it up on DVD at a bargain price (£8!) The film, based upon the memoirs of journalist Lynn Barber, tells the story of Jenny (played by Carey Mulligan), a young girl on the cusp of adulthood who is preparing to begin a degree at Oxford University. Jenny's parents (more specifically her father, played brilliantly by Alfred Molina) are in the midst of coaching Jenny for the start of her academic career when their lives are invaded by mysterious stranger David (Peter Sarsgaard). David seduces Jenny with expensive gifts, glib persuasion and a 17th birthday trip to Paris, the bohemian paradise of her naïve dreams. As he infiltrates Jenny's comfortable suburban life, she begins to reconsider her priorities and question whether she should follow the path to Oxford or shun University completely. Indeed, in one telling scene, Jenny's father even discourages her from going, in favour of her being financially supported by David after the two become engaged. As Jenny is further exposed to the charmed yet morally bankrupt life David leads, she encounters two of his close friends, Danny and Helen, portrayed by Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike respectively. Cooper, as always, charms, much as he has done since his breakthrough in The History Boys, but it is Pike who is the true scene stealer of this film, thanks mainly to the comic potential of the character she has been gifted with. Helen is essentially the antithesis of Jenny; a woman who lacks ambition or a great deal of intellect, and who is happy to be supported by her boyfriend whilst quaffing champagne adorned in designer clothes. Just as the truth about David's luxurious living and deceit is revealed, Jenny neglects to take her A-Level examinations and is ultimately left to rely upon herself to make the biggest decision of her young life.

I found An Education extremely enjoyable, and in places very funny. The script, written by Nick Hornby, possesses true British wit and heart, and the cinematography, which encapsulates the rainy pavements of Twickenham and the romantic Parisian sunset, is beautiful. In places, I did find the plot quite predictable, but I put this down to Sarsgaard's performance; he does such a brilliant job of making David slightly creepy and unnerving that it was obvious from the outset that he was not all he seemed and would ultimately leave Jenny broken-hearted. The film also features some brilliant supporting performances, specifically from Emma Thompson and Olivia Williams, who, as Jenny's teachers, do all they can to dissuade her from her association with David. The costume designs of Odile Dicks- Mireaux also deserve commendation, as they place the film perfectly within the 1960's and evoke a decadence which begins to seduce the audience just as it seduces Jenny. As the film concludes, we bear witness to a cautionary tale of the price of being too trusting, and, much like Jenny, are reminded of the valuable lessons that life, as well as school, can teach us.

Have you seen An Education? What did you think of it?

(Image credit: Google.)


  1. I literally didn't even LOOK at any of this post haha cos I want to watch it soon and don't want any spoilers :P x

  2. aww, i tried not to be too spoilerific! hope you enjoy it, let me know what you think! x

  3. looks pretty good, got to check this one out! x

  4. i saw this one! i liked it :] i loved the fashion in the film too! thank you for your comment on our blog! it is much appreciated :D we will come back and visit you again soon! hope you will do the same!

    xx, camilla


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