An Education

A beautiful performance by a relatively new actress helped define the Oscar nominated film, An Education.   

Set in London in 1961, An Education is the story of 16-year-old, Jenny (Carey Mulligan), and her journey from everyday high school student to worldly woman.  While studying to get into Oxford University and appease her father (Alfred Molina), Jenny becomes frustrated with her simpleton life. 

When it appears that her life is going to be planned out for her, she comes into contact with David (Peter Sarsgaard), a much older man who develops an infatuation with the young student.  Not being bothered with the age factor, the two become close and David shows Jenny a world she never could have imagined existed.

While being exposed to new people and new experiences, Jenny must decide whether her new life is worth giving up everything she had previously worked for.  The decision won’t be an easy one as she is conflicted by the opinions of those closest to her.  She also learns that the initial excitement and danger associated with acting older than she is may be more than she can handle.

Mulligan was phenomenal in this role.  This was my first experience seeing her as an actress and I was blown away.  She had a young Audrey Hepburn resemblance at many points during this film.  Up against strong, veteran actors in Sarsgaard and Molina, Mulligan stood out and lit up the screen.  She was able to transition from naive girl to classy woman in a blink of an eye. 

I think Sarsgaard always does such great work.  He has managed to pick roles that are so well-developed.  From Shattered Glass and Garden State to Jarhead, he always manages to steal the scenes he’s in.  Molina was pretty endearing in the role of Jenny’s father.  Although he is tough on her, he still finds ways to shine while on-screen.  He can play angel or devil and still be likeable to an audience.

Without giving away the ending, this film impressed me in the way it wrapped up the story.  It wasn’t what I expected, but I thought it ended in a way that was positive and empowering.  In addition, even though the setting of this film occurred 50 years ago and is a drama, I still found it to be a source of escapism.

This movie was very well done and I would absolutely recommend it.  Mulligan has a lengthy career ahead of her, if this film is any indication.   

9 thoughts on “An Education”

  1. I liked the movie about the same you did. Now Kubrick is my favorite director but I felt this was a better version of Lolita (1962). Great review, good movie.

  2. Well it all depends on what kind of movies you like. Kubrick has made a wide variety of movies, and a lot are not for everyone. Here are my ranking of his movies (don’t worry there are only 11) and what genre they are.

    1. A Clockwork Orange (1971) – Sci-Fi (I personally don’t think this can be defined by a genre but AFI says it’s Sci-Fi)
    2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – Sci-Fi
    3. Paths of Glory – War Drama (1957)
    4. Dr. Strangelove (1964) – Comedy
    5. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – Drama (again this can’t be defined by a genre but if I had to pick I’d say Drama)
    6. Barry Lyndon (1975) – Period Drama (or an Epic)
    7. The Killing (1956) – Crime
    8. Full Metal Jacket (1987) – War
    9. Spartacus (1960) – Epic
    10. The Shining (1980) – Horror
    11. Lolita (1962) – Romance

    Make sure you look them up before you watch them to see if you have interest. I give all a 5/5 except Shining (4/5) and Lolita (3.5/5)

  3. Thanks so much for the list. I saw A Clockwork Orange a long, long time ago..so I don’t remember it other than remembering how odd it was. I’ve seen parts of Eyes Wide Shut too. I will definitely add some of these to my ‘need to see’ list.

  4. kubrick was an okay director, I loved Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket, but his films besides those two weren’t good, in my opinion. I would recommend that you see A Single Man if you liked this performance. Another great director who does movies like this would be Marc Foster (Monster’s Ball, Kite Runner, Quantum of Solace) and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel, 21 Grams).

  5. Back to ‘An Education’… I really liked this film. I loved Mulligan’s acting, her face seemed like it was made for this role. Also, I apriciated Molina very much, I think he was veeery good in this role, he was harsh, but at the same time loving. As for Sarsgaard I think he was well suited for his role, he was likeable, but there was just something about him, that… wasn’t right. However, I disagree with you on the ending – I was dissapointed by it, I expected some new, fresh look on this kind of problems and not another moral tale… I loved the costumes in this film also, I think the time period in which the story occured allowed really great outfits to be shown in this movie. I would recommend this movie, because it is certainly worth seeing. It was pleasant and it did question what is good and bad, and I also loved how it showed the parent’s role in what was happening to Jenny, I think that theme spoke to me the most. Overall – good movie, but don’t expect many surprises…

  6. I was first drwn to this movie by Carey Mulligan, I had first seen her in Pride and Prejudice(2005)in which she had a small role.I wanted to see how she she acted in a main role and I was not disappointed. She shined and was believeable throughout the entire movie. What really affected me about this movie was that it seemed that the audience was taking the journey with Jenny throughout. This movie is definitly worth watching.

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