In the same way that sixteen year old school girl Jenny is romanced by a an older man, you'll be equally charmed by An Education if you see it at the movies.
In this coming-of-age tale, the wonderful Carey Mulligan (who I know for her portrayal as Sally Sparrow in the amazing Doctor Who TV episode 'Blink') finds herself growing up in the early 1960's suburban London (Twickenham to be exact), longing for culture and the promise of a more interesting future.
She attends a stuffy all-girls school, but longs to smoke cigarettes, wear black, read books and listen to French music. So when a chance encounter with an older man (Peter Sarsgaard) presents itself, she's whisked into a world of symphonies, jazz clubs, art, exciting restaurants, foreign travel and the culture that she yearns for.
She's definitely 'romanced' rather than 'seduced' and it's a sweet, witty and engaging movie. Based on some of the memoirs of British journalist Lynn Barber, with a marvelous screenplay by Nick Hornby (of About a Boy fame), it's a thoroughly enjoyable film to spend 100 minutes of your life watching.
Carey Mulligan is just a revelation to watch and is totally believable as a teenage girl entering this exciting new world and it's a delight to behold her adventures. Also great is to see such a strong female character to reflect the social changes of the era, to see her want to fight convention when the choice for many women at the time only seemed to be get married, become a teacher, secretary or someone in the caring profession.
It's also satisfying that Jenny is already bright, well read and enlightened and all this isn't simple gained from dating an older man.
There's also wonderful cast to support her. Alfred Molina has a nice comic turn as her father, Rosamund Pike is the vapid, but endearing party girl, Helen, Dominic Cooper plays the smarmy best friend and partner-in-crime of Jenny's older lover well and Emma Thompson relishes the chance to play a wonderfully prim, proper and stern Headmistress.
Peter Sarsgaard as David deserves special mention as someone who not only charms Jenny, but her parents and other unsuspecting folk. He's very convincing and charismatic. I also loved the chemistry with Olivia Williams (currently starring in Joss Whedon's Dollhouse on TV as Adelle Dewitt) as Jenny's teacher (and one possible future), Ms. Stubbs.
Along with the fantastic script, the film is beautifully directed. From the authentic costumes and 1960's London look, to the familiar British locations, especially the architecture and scenery which made me feel very nostalgic for my West London home.
I give An Education four **** stars. It's full of british charm, style and wit and deserves to be seen. Plus it's far more uplifting than Where the Wild Things Are.
You can also visit my Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props blog for a closer look at the costumes from An Education.
Go see the movie or if you already have, let me know what you thought...