I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Carey Mulligan is awesome at what she does. It’s no surprise she got an Oscar nod for the role in this movie. In An Education, she plays Jenny, a high school girl who thinks she’s ready for adulthood. She meets David (Peter Sarsgaard) early on in her last year of classes and gets whisked away into a glamorous life of liquor, dancing, and occasionally, thievery.
Luckily for her, Jenny’s parents are completely taken by David and trust him with their daughter, allowing her to take trips to Paris and enjoy her youthful indulgences with her much older boyfriend.
Jenny learns more about David, and even when exposed to his flaws, like stealing valuables from other people’s homes, she manages to forgive him and accept him.
After a while, it even seems like everything’s going to work out the way Jenny wants. She quits school, quits her Oxford-bound life, and agrees to marry David when he asks. But it doesn’t take long for her to realize her naivety and how foolish she was to trust him.
A few documents in the glovebox of the fancy car he drives reveal that she’s been running around with a married man all this time, a man to whom she lost her virginity. No explanation to her parents, she quickly breaks off the engagement and tells David to come clean. But, of course, realizing he’s been caught, he just motors off.
Jenny follows up, searching out the wife of the man she thought she knew, only to discover David’s a father as well. But, in the wife’s opinion, she got off light. At least she wasn’t pregnant.
After the experience, she comes back to the path she’d been on, Oxford. After getting an education in the real world at such a young age, Jenny is finally able to see that for all the busy work and whip-cracking by her parents, an education in academics is what she wants to pursue.
The acting above all is perfection. Carey Mulligan nails it, and Peter Sarsgaard and Alfred Molina, as usual, are top notch. The story progresses at just the right pace, and doesn’t leave you confused while still giving you enough drama to whet your appetite. The settings are not only well-selected and laid out for the time-period, but they’re quite beautiful too. It’s not a movie in which the backdrop is that crucial to the story, but it’s well-photographed for being a small, relatively minimalist film.
It’s quite a flawless movie, and it draws you in quickly. It’s not slow or difficult to follow at all, but if you hate dramas, it might not be your cup of tea. However, there are reasons it was nominated for three Oscars, and those reasons will become clear after watching the film. Well done on all accounts.
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