An Education


Screen up on a row house in suburban London in the 60’s. While the beginnings of the counter counter whistles around, the occupants have high expectations for the sixteen year old daughter. Her all-girls school and her task master father (Alfred Molina) channels young, Jenny Miller (Carey Mullingan) to a life devoted to school and the elusive acceptance letter to Oxford. With an all to common rainstorm and a happenstance inquiry by an older bloke Jenny’s predesignated journey is rattled.

This older gentlemen, David Goldman, (Peter Sarsgaard) lives the life Jenny has always dreamed. Classical music revues, art auctions, dinner and dancing at posh restaurants and most of all trips to Paris. All this he exposes to Jenny in exchange for her youthful vitality and the chance to have a young pretty thing on his arm. Jenny begins to struggle with the plan she always thought she would follow and the live she always wanted.

The facade begins to crumble on one of their trips out of town. Around Oxford David and his business partner, Danny (Dominic Cooper), procure a old map from a open house. Soon after it is reveled that David business career focuses on blockbusting and that his lifestyle is based on fraud. This fact or the reasons behind why a 30 something would be interested in a 16 year old should start to make you  doubts  the sanity of David’s agenda. One of the most disturbing aspects of the movie is that Jenny’s parents let their daughter go so easily especially after years of being strict.  Just a few kind words and charisma sways this family into letting their daughter out at night.

Jenny’s proposed future and reality continue to deteriorate till the end of the film where she is shocked back into propriety. She is forced to beg for her old school for which she is reprimanded. Jenny’s headmistress, Miss Walters (Emma Thompson) enlightens Jenny by correcting her in saying that she was no woman but a confused girl. Its a tragic story with a hopeful end. Jenny finally finds the equilibrium.

Although Carey Mulligans performance was that of a seasoned vet she plays the role as if she were youth itself. Down to the ambivalence to guilt or blame.  Her  doesn’t hurt her performance that towards the end of the film she starts looking like Audrey Hepburn circa Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The film demonstrates a key social aspect of the 60’s. The difference between parents/societal norms and personal liberation. Underscoring all this is the role woman play in society. Above all this is a film about a girl who questions her mothers role and eventually the degree she is planning on receiving.  She asks what is it all for and sadly no one can answer her.  All she does learn is that their are no shortcuts.

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