Saturday, March 6, 2010

Review: An Education (Lone Scherfig, 2009)

An Education is a fantastic film for the first 90 minutes, but its such a shame the ending was so rushed and neat. This perfectly timed drama places Jenny (Carey Mulligan) inside our hearts as she begins a relationship with David (Peter Sarsgaard), a man much older than her. With her parents strongly pushing her education, David shows her a glamorous life free of the stresses of study. She questions her own future: to finish her high school education and gain the results worthy of University entry, or to settle down and marry young and be supported by her husband. But from the beginning, David is not all that he appears, and as the relationship becomes more serious, and Jenny less child-like and innocent, we wait for the twist. 

Carey Mulligan is an up-and-comer, and delivers a tender emotional performance. She is too young to take home the Oscar but she certainly deserves her nomination. A brilliant performance. Alfred Molina is also great as her over-protective father. The film's critique of the private schooling system and its position in shaping the future of London's youth is well developed, as is the judgment of the importance of knowledge in leading an enjoyable and happy lifestyle. This confusing adolescent stage is superbly realized in Mulligan's performance.

An unforgivable negative is the conclusion, which swiftly reassures us that Jenny will finally live the life fused by the schooling system. After such a dramatic twist just moments before, a much more daring decision would have left Jenny without hope of ever becoming who she dreamed to be, and being content with middle class work. But the short generic montage and cheesy voice over that neatly wraps up this otherwise absorbing tale makes you feel like another ten minutes spent on covering this in more depth would make the film more complete. But overall, Lone Scherfig has built a well constructed and tender drama.

My Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

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