The wife and I had a babysitter a couple weeks ago, so we looked at the movies playing at our favorite cinema emporium, the Spectrum 8. While there were other movies we hadn't seen, none had intrigued me as much as An Education, a movie for which Nick Hornsby - who had scripted About A Boy, a movie I liked a lot - had written the screenplay, based on a Lynn Barber memoir. The film had also received big kudos at one of the film festivals. AND my wife is an educator.
Based on a true story, An Education is a tale of a girl named Jenny, 16 going on 17, in 1961 suburban London, England. She's a very smart secondary school student, probably posed to go to Oxford University. Yet she is also quite bored with her perceived lot in life, secondary school to ensure getting to Oxford University.. During a rainstorm, a man in his 30s offers her cello a lift. This starts a very subtle and slow-moving courtship, not just of romance but also of lifestyle, which involves wooing her parents as much as the girl.
This is a very subtle film, with few BIG MOMENTS. Watching the film, directed by Lone Scherfig, I didn't have big reactions until near the end. Thinking about it afterward, it all made a great deal of sense.
Even critics not loving the film, and it has a 94% positive rating in Rotten Tomatoes - gave kudos to the lead actress, who is a real find. Played by newcomer Carey Mulligan, she plays the character with that know-it-all teenager without being too grating. She has a certain young Audrey Hepburn-type beauty in this film.
My favorite character in this film is actually Jenny's father, Jack, played by Alfred Molina, who I probably last saw as Doc Ock in the Spider-Man 2 movie. Jenny thinks of him as a real stick-in-the-mud, and maybe he is, but he shows colors of who he used to be.
Also starring Cara Seymour as Jenny's mom, Majorie; Peter Sarsgaard as the suitor, David; Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike as David's friends Danny and Helen; Olivia Williams as Jenny's teacher, Miss Stubbs; and Emma Thompson as the headmistress. It was actually an Emma Thompson line that I most reacted to until near the end.
My wife liked the picture but didn't want to because David was not who he said he was. But we see this throughout the film; at some level, Jenny sees this too. I do wish I loved this picture, but it felt somehow at arm's length. It was a well-crafted film, and I enjoyed it well enough.