An Education review

            Anyone who has lived past their teens and into their twenties is likely to experience the pain of first love lost. Watching An Education, I couldn’t help but recall a quote, something about the ignorance of first love. The quote itself isn’t important, not as much as the way that I was able to see the film. It is easy upon the description of the film’s plot to focus on the age issues within the film, but the fact that the protagonist is only 16 increases the believability of the story itself. If we are open to love in our lives, it is usually just a matter of time before the harsh realities take hold. The vulnerability of love can often be crushed with betrayal and deceit, and sixteen-year-old Jenny (Carey Mulligan) learns this lesson at a younger age than most.

            Perhaps the most frightening element of the film is not the way that Jenny is approached or seduced by 30-something David (Peter Sarsgaard), but instead it is the way that she seems to understand what is happening to her. Jenny is a bright girl, very clearly mature for her age. It is 1961 and girls all tend to seem more naïve, but Jenny has cautious nature. David is just as cautious in his approach, which begins on a rainy afternoon when he offers the young girl a ride. After a brief conversation David is able to find the right things to entice Jenny. He offers her the culture and experiences that the teenage boys she knows could never provide.

            Meanwhile her parents (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour) seem equally enchanted by the young man that has taken an interest in their daughter. Although it seems that they understand what is happening, the fact that their daughter doesn’t need to go to Oxford to find a husband seems a relief to them. If anything, the parents are naïve about the intentions of David, whereas Jenny is more on guard. She also seems to appreciate the things that he can provide her with, choosing the chance to see Paris. What she takes away from this experience is far more educational than all of the museums can provide, and she has learned a lesson that usually takes years more experience.

            The screenplay by Nick Hornby is well paced, never shocking us with the nature of the relationship because of the gradual pace with which is progresses. There is also a great deal to say about newcomer Carey Mulligan. Her comparisons to Audrey Hepburn seem mostly connected to the nature of the film, but she seemed more like Katie Holmes to me in many sequences. Her performances is a light and natural one, making Jenny much more sympathetic than she could have been.

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