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AN EDUCATION (director: Lone Scherfig; screenwriters: Nick Hornby/based on a memoir by Lynn Barber; cinematographer: John de Borman; editor: Barney Pilling; music: Paul Englishby; cast: Carey Mulligan (Jenny), Peter Sarsgaard (David), Dominic Cooper (Danny), Rosamund Pike (Helen), Alfred Molina (Jack), Cara Seymour (Marjorie), Matthew Beard (Graham), Emma Thompson (Headmistress), Olivia Williams (Miss Stubbs), Sally Hawkins (Sarah), Amanda Fairbank-Hynes (Hattie), Ellie Kendrick (Tina); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Finola Dwyer/Amanda Posey; Sony Pictures Classics; 2009)
“Played with great wit and depth by the 24-year-old British actress Carey Mulligan.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Danish-born filmmaker Lone Scherfig (“Just Like Home”/”Italian for Beginners”) helms this middlebrow coming-of-age BBC type of a drama that’s based on a memoir by Brit journalist Lynn Barber. It’s written by About A Boy writer Nick Hornby, with a decided need to turn things crowd pleasing and uplifting.

The private school nice girl smarty pants 16-year-old virgin heroine Jenny is played with great wit and depth by the 24-year-old British actress Carey Mulligan. The bubbly Jenny is a cello playing passionate, curious and bored student, bound for Oxford but dreaming of living in Paris. It’s 1961 and the wannabe liberated Jenny is suppressed by her uptight private school and her Twickenham (London suburbs) residing middle-class clueless proper parents (Cara Seymour and Alfred Molina)–especially the opinionated dad, who is overbearing.

After a cello rehearsal, the charming snake-like thirtysomething David (Peter Sarsgaard) picks Jenny up in the rainy street and smooth talks his way into giving her a lift home in his fancy car. The clean-cut smoothie charms her dad with his silver-tongue and gets to take her out. They’re joined in their dates by David’s friends, his business partner Danny (Dominic Cooper) and ditzy blonde bombshell Helen (Rosamund Pike). The dashing David is Jewish and acts as a sophisticate. He takes her to an art auction, to jazz clubs, lets her drink Champagne in upscale restaurants, smoke his fancy cigarettes, and seduces her with high-brow talk.

Jenny’s unsophisticated parents get completely taken in by David’s rap, thinking their daughter would advance in social status by marrying him and not going to college. Jenny is happy to be doing exciting things, and even when she realizes that she’s now traveling with a bunch of scam artists she can’t let go of the high-living ride. As Jenny weighs her options of what choices she has, Oxford or living an adventurous life with the seductive David, she grows more womanly and digs deep within to make the right choice. Help comes in the way of sound advice from her dedicated teacher (Olivia Williams), who would hate to see her waste her brain by not going to college. It’s too bad the drama lost its edge in the too good to be believable ending, that wraps things up too pat.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”