An Education

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The now Bafta winning (Carey Mulligan for Best Actress) and Oscar nominated independent charm that is An Education is proving to cause a international storm with critics and panels alike, however its inception breeds from unusual roots as it is directed by the virtually unknown Lone Scherfig, (a predominantly Danish filmmaker, notably involved with Red Road) an only second time written (formerly with Fever Pitch) screenplay from British treasure Nick Hornby and the first lead performance from fresh faced Carey Mulligan. Furthermore, it is adapted from an autobiographical memoir from British journalist Lynn Barber, and received only limited financial support from the likes of the U.K Film Council. However despite its hap-hazard foundations, An Education proves to be excusing the pun an education in independent film making.

The film follows the exploits and encounters of a young British school girl named Jenny Mellor (Mulligan) as she begins that fateful transition from a young girl to a woman through the mischievous cocktail of adolescent flurries mixed with parental and deterministic rebellion.   Indispensable support is provided from a broad buffet of international talent ranging from the adamant Peter Sarsgaard (previously of Jarhead, Shattered Glass and Garden State), the ever- dependable British royalty Emma Thompson, scary eyed Alfred Molina (of Spiderman 2), the beautiful Rosamund Pike (of Bond girl fame) & Olivia Williams (of The Sixth Sense) and finally staunch new-comer and one to keep an eye on Dominic Cooper (of The Escapist & The History Boys).

All together the story is compelling enough to sustain your interest and your emotional investment in the characters, particularly as a result of some uniquely brilliant acting taking full of advantage of both   Hornby’s as ever witty dialogue and the vast well of pubescent & establishment talents littered throughout. The film is particularly relevant to British people at it depicts so many familiarities idiosyncratic to this little islands quirkiness and provides a social commentary that is both uplifting and revealing in its hilarious yet critical deliverance. The film is set in 1960s Twickenham, in the quaint post-war suburban metropolis which appears to be waving the conservative flag desperate to hold on to Victorian ideals of courtship and morals. The films message is one of rejection, a rebellion to the epidemic of English reserves and backward ideals that punctuates our society or did so almost unanimously before, as Mulligan so tremendously shouts It’s not enough to just educate us anymore, you have to tell us why.

Unfortunately though despite an Education’s firm grasp of a mature Adrian Mole, once the message of what it means to be young in our society is pronounced, the film becomes quite deflated in providing an exciting narrative for the expedition of its ideologies. It appears some quite big issues are dealt with all too quickly and as result the film lacks the infrastructure that I am sure a novel could deliver. The love story between Mulligan and Sarsgaard plays well in its first chapters, but becomes quite alien towards its inevitable climax. Furthermore the audience is left with some unexplained questions and the film reaches a point of quite flaccid entanglements in a limbo between its message, its characters and its story.

However, if you are looking for a solid antidote to the usual American travesty of the Rom-com, and would like to enter a world of not so straight forward issues that young people are forced to deal with, whether it be your first love, your place in society, your future etc, then An Education delivers as a charming and sometimes uneasy observation into the intricate nature of young life.

An Education Trailer

 

 

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