Home Movie Vault Disc Vault Coming Soon Join Our Mailing List Articles About Us Contest Soundtrack Books eStore

  Publicity Stills of
Courtesy of GV

Genre: Drama
Lone Scherfig
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams, Emma Thompson, Cara Seymour, Matthew Beard, Sally Hawkins
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: PG

Official Website: http://www.aneducationfilm.com/

Opening Day: 26 November 2009


It's 1961 and attractive, bright 16-year-old schoolgirl, Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is poised on the brink of womanhood, dreaming of a rarefied, Gauloise-scented existence as she sings along to Juliette Greco in her Twickenham bedroom. Stifled by the tedium of adolescent routine, Jenny can't wait for adult life to begin. Meanwhile, she's a diligent student, excelling in every subject except the Latin that her father is convinced will land her the place she dreams of at Oxford University.

One rainy day, her suburban life is upended by the arrival of an unsuitable suitor, 30-ish David (Peter Sarsgaard). Urbane and witty, David instantly unseats Jenny's stammering schoolboy admirer, Graham (Matthew Beard). To her frank amazement, he even manages to charm her conservative parents Jack (Alfred Molina) and Marjorie (Cara Seymour), and effortlessly overcomes any instinctive objections to their daughter's older, Jewish suitor.

Very quickly, David introduces Jenny to a glittering new world of classical concerts and late-night suppers with his attractive friend and business partner, Danny (Dominic Cooper) and Danny's girlfriend, the beautiful but vacuous Helen (Rosamund Pike). David replaces Jenny's traditional education with his own version, picking her up from school in his Bristol roadster and whisking her off to art auctions and smoky clubs.

Under the pretext of an introduction to C.S. Lewis, David arranges to take Jenny on a weekend jaunt to Oxford with Danny and Helen. Later, using an ingenious mixture of flattery and fibbery, he persuades her parents to allow him to take their only daughter to Paris for her 17th birthday. David suggests that his "Aunt Helen" will once again act as a chaperone. Jack and Marjorie do not know that Jenny has chosen the date and place to lose her virginity.

Paris is all that Jenny imagined it would be, sex with David somewhat less so. On her return to Twickenham, Jenny's school friends are thrilled with her newfound sophistication but her headmistress (Emma Thompson) is scandalised and her English teacher Miss Stubbs (Olivia Williams) is deeply disappointed that her prize pupil seems determined to throw away her evident gifts and certain chance of higher education.

Just as the family's long-held dream of getting their brilliant daughter into Oxford seems within reach, Jenny is tempted by another kind of life. Will David be the making of Jenny or her undoing?

Movie Review:

"Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood."- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here’s a lesson that young, nubile girls should bear in mind- if you want to be swept off your feet, be prepared to fall on your knees. That is the lesson facing bright 16-year-old Jenny, a smart and pretty young lady on the cusp of adulthood. One rainy day, Jenny (Carey Mulligan) accepts the offer of a lift from charming, sophisticated thirtyish man David (Peter Sarsgaard) who would go on to introduce her to the world of concerts, art auctions, posh restaurants and everything else she doesn’t yet know about the good life.

Who could blame Jenny for falling for him? Before this, she was a student in a stuffy British school bound for Oxford, brought up in a prim and proper middle-class family with an overbearing father (Alfred Molina) and a sympathetic mother (Cara Seymour). Into this stifling environment springs David, much like a breath of fresh air, embracing the things she loves and bringing her to the place she has only visited in her wildest dreams- Paris! Ah yes indeed, who wouldn’t fall for someone like David?

But it’s obvious that there’s a catch to all that- beneath the cool, debonair exterior, David is really no more than a cad, one who relishes the company of a girl genuinely taken and smitten by him. Jenny, of course, doesn’t find out until it is too late, living through the experience of her life the painful lesson she will eventually learn. Too soon, too eager, one sighs- but isn’t it so for all of us when we were adolescents too, just waiting all so keenly, and sometimes a little too impatiently, to burst out into life and taste its infinite possibilities?

At once then, director Lone Scherfig’s "An Education" is both a cautionary tale and a coming-of-age story, as relevant to Jenny as it is to any one of us. Perhaps inevitably, one must live through life to realise its traps and snares, to fully understand that it isn’t always as rosy as it first appears to be. In teaching this lesson, Scherfig adopts a deliberate pacing, slowly unfolding a convincing story of how an intelligent, yet inquisitive, girl falls prey to the allure of a much older man.

He is aided here brilliantly by novelist Nick Hornby’s screenplay (High Fidelity), packed with witty lines and keen observations that have made his books so popular among fans. Hornby’s work is even more outstanding in light that his source material was just an eight-page essay by Lynn Barber published in Granta magazine in the ‘60s- Barber herself a British journalist who at the age of 16, had a well-publicized two-year affair with a man in his late 30s.

What has also made this lesson truly lively is its talented cast, in particular the luminous Carey Mulligan. Mulligan strikes a perfect balance of vulnerability, confidence, intelligence and fragility, deftly handling her character’s transformation from a naive teenager to a worldly young adult. There’s a fine line between assurance and arrogance, and Mulligan never lets her character slip into the latter, building up a great deal of empathy for Jenny even as you lament at her naiveté.

Just as outstanding in their supporting roles is Alfred Molina and Olivia Williams- the former proving that outside of the villainous Dr Octopus, he actually does have perfect comic timing as Jenny’s father; and the latter imbuing the role of Jenny’s concerned teacher with great warmth and sincerity. Not forgetting of course the understated Peter Sarsgaard, who eschews the typical stereotype of handsome, sweet-talking man for a well-nuanced, quietly poised and ultimately dashing portrayal of David.

But the true star of the show is none other than the 24-year-old actress Carey Mulligan, her discovery in this breakout film an education in itself. The lesson that her film imparts is oft-told, but one that deserves to be said and heard again- life needs to be lived with caution, especially if it appears too good to be true. Maybe that’s one lesson we all need to live through before we truly understand its wisdom.

Movie Rating:

(Wonderfully engaging film from start to end- and "An Education" in itself for its breakout star Carey Mulligan)

Review by Gabriel Chong


. Revolutionary Road (2008)

. Elegy (2008)

. Atonement (2007)

. The History Boys (2006)

. Kinsey (2004)


DISCLAIMER: Images, Textual, Copyrights and trademarks for the film and related entertainment properties mentioned
herein are held by their respective owners and are solely for the promotional purposes of said properties.
All other logo and design Copyright©2004- , movieXclusive.com™
All Rights Reserved.