The aptly named film An Education was not at all what I expected it to be. It exceeded my expectations by far and even surprised me. A coming-of-age tale of a 16-year-old girl in London. Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is doing well in school and on track to attend Oxford after high school. She is bright with a sharp wit and knows what she wants. Dad Jack (Alfred Molina) keeps on her to make sure that she is behaving and doing just exactly what she is supposed to be doing: spending every moment of her life buried in her books.
Everything changes one dreary, rain-soaked afternoon. Jenny stands on the corner alongside her cello when David (Peter Sarsgaard) pulls up beside her. He offers shelter in his car to her cello and she walks with his car, eventually letting her guard down and getting in.
One must keep in mind that this film is set in a different time and place. Suburban London in the 60s probably wasn’t as treacherous as say, London in the late 1800s. Jack the Ripper was long gone and Peter Sarsgaard has a certain charm to him. So she gets in the car and this is where our story truly begins.
A professor in a film class I am taking said to me once that to make a film you need three simple elements: a protagonist, an antagonist, and a plot. We need a beginning, a middle, and an end. So, you take your character and you get him up in a tree. That’s the first act. You then throw rocks at him while he’s in that tree. That’s the second act. Finally, he comes down from the tree. Fin.
At this point, Jenny is up in the tree.
David, nearly twice Jenny’s age, treats her to the finer things in life. A girl of sixteen would be wooed if a boy even knew her name. David not only knows her name, but he takes her out, buys her nice things, takes her to dinners, and even wins over her parents. His doting becomes more extravagant every day until he eventually proposes.
Meanwhile, Jenny has lost sight of her Oxford goals and decided to become just married instead. All the while, the audience wonders if David’s intentions are pure or not and, well, I won’t spoil that for you. Some of you may see the ending coming, some of you may not. I know that personally, I had a feeling and my feeling ended up being correct. But the movie ends just exactly the way I hoped it would.
Carey Mulligan is absolutely enchanting. Her face, her laugh, her charm… she’s just lovely. This title, An Education, is truly what occurs in the film. This education is a literal one and an emotional one and I feel this is a brilliant film for young women to see especially. The message is clear and just goes to show that some things really are just too good to be true.