Foreign & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video ">

Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Rotten Tomatoes
Showtimes & Tickets
Enter Zip Code:

Carey Mulligan & Peter Sarsgaard in AN EDUCATION (Photo: Kerry Brown/Sony Pictures Classics)

Directed by
Lone Scherfig
Produced by
Finola Dwyer & Amanda Posey
Written by Nick Hornby, based on the memoir by Lynn Barber
Released by Sony Pictures Classics
UK. 100 min. Rated PG-13
Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Alfred Molina, Cara Seymour & Emma Thompson

Stranded in the pouring rain, 16-year-old Jenny (Carey Mulligan) hesitantly accepts a ride in the warm sports car of David (Peter Sarsgaard)—a chance encounter that propels her into making certain choices a little earlier than her parents expected.

Soon, she is running towards a life she never anticipated. David is an older man with money. His friends, the rakish Danny (Dominic Cooper) and blonde bombshell Helen (Rosamund Pike), are at first standoffish but yet alluring to Jenny. In the trio’s company, she becomes urbane, sophisticated, and grown up. They talk about art, go to clubs, and travel in a social stratum her middle-class parents can’t afford or imagine.

Set in drab 1961, Jenny’s story is taken from the rebellious teen years of famed and feared British journalist Lynn Barber and adapted by Nick Hornby, whose jokes and emphasis on surface romance are given room to breathe by director Lone Scherfig. Youthful confusion is what Hornby pens best, and Scherfig knows how to deliver a dark punch line.

Jenny feels more sophisticated with each misstep, of which there are many. For example, she has arbitrarily vowed to stay a virgin until her 17th birthday, and in one scene, she puts off David’s advances—he bargains with her to flash her breasts in the meantime. Here, as in many scenes, Mulligan puts on a face of utmost childish pride. Throughout, Jenny rebuffs all criticism with oblivious over-approximation of her wisdom, as only a pretty teenage girl can. If Jenny weren’t so winning (and Mulligan such a skillful actress), this role of a somewhat selfish ingénue playing dress up would be painful to watch.

Sarsgaard also brings more truth to the character than the writing allots. David could have easily been a letch preying on girlhood delusions, but Sarsgaard gives his hostile character the right ounce of sincere emotion needed to make an audience understand Jenny’s infatuation with such a charming sleaze ball. Zachary Jones
October 9, 2009



Archive of Previous Reviews

Contact us