Monday, February 1, 2010

An Education

Yep, my friend Judy and I went out to see another movie, this one called An Education (the link takes you to my favorite movie link, Rotten Tomatoes, which gives this film a 95% freshness rating). Set in London in 1961, it's the story of a young sixteen-year-old schoolgirl who falls for a guy twice her age. Played impeccably by British actress Carey Mulligan (who's in her twenties, I found out), Jenny learns quickly about the sophisticated world of David (Peter Sarsgaard) and his cohorts.

David is charming and takes her to amazing places, and she is so smitten that she decides his world is way better than the one she's known all her life. And then she discovers some not-so-nice sides of David, but since he showers her with expensive gifts, and she thinks she loves him, not to mention she loses her virginity to him (and this before the swinging sixties started up), she agrees to marry him and drops out of school before taking her final exams. She is smart and witty and had every intention of going to Oxford before all this happened.

For me, one of the hardest parts of the movie was the way her parents went along with everything that the charming David brought into their lives. I overheard a woman saying, as we were leaving the movie, "I can't believe her parents went along with all that nonsense!" And I found this reviewer expressing the same sentiment (Ann Hornaday at the Washington Post):
As Jenny herself notes at one point, silly teenage girls are always being seduced by glamorous older men, but what "An Education" portrays with such appalling (and improbably amusing) clarity is the complicity of Jenny's parents in their daughter's alluring, perilous flirtation with adulthood.
The period was created so completely that nothing stood out as being false in the setting, and of course it took me back to my own 1961 young womanhood. And I did wonder about this guy, who is he exactly. You find out before the movie's end that all is not as it seems, and that David is, as you might have guessed by now, a cad.

I would give the movie a solid "good" rating, although never would I have guessed that almost every reviewer thought it was better than I did, but of course I'm not an expert. [News flash: it got nominated for best picture and best actress for Carey in the Oscars!] I know what I like, and I liked it and will probably see it again on Netflix sometime in the future. Every time I see a movie the second time, I usually like it much better because I know the ending. I no longer feel so caught up in the story and can appreciate all the nuances.


  1. Such was life for young women in the 60's. Sounds like a very accurate portrayal. Women often sacrificed their own identities to benefit their husband's and parents pushed them into it. Anything to get their daughters across the threshold. Marriage wasn't like what we saw in the Cleaver household or Ozzie and Harriet's place on TV. No wonder women finally rebelled later in that decade. Thank goodness I grew up during the women's movement. I learned to have a voice and I use it - ask my husband - he will certainly attest to it.

  2. I haven't seen this movie, but I'll keep an eye out for it; sounds interesting.

  3. I've never even heard of this movie. I must live in a cave because my introduction most of these movies is your blog! This one sounds interesting, if only because I remember what it's like to be young and think that older men were somehow more attractive. It never occurred to me to ask why older men weren't dating women their own age instead of high school girls.

  4. It's on my list!

    We watched a 2008 film tonight called Julia, starring Tilda Swinton...OMG. If you haven't seen it, check it out. I really like her...

    Happy February, D-jan!!

  5. Haven't heard of it, but I looking forward for it. I saw several films similar to that story, and I think it should be rated PG or R. Sometimes it is with these films where young girls get the idea of dating older men.


  6. It is hard for me to "get in" a movie. I can do it easier in books. Put myself there in that time and place. I liked your description of this movie.

    And yes, we did some wonderful things when we were younger. I can see you blush.

  7. I'ved loved that actress since she was in my favorite masterpiece movie, "Bleak House."

  8. Hello, my dear fellow reader!! I will check out Song Yet Sung, thanks for the referral. I just finished Commitment by Elizabeth Gilbert. And this week I finished a John Sandford called Rough Country and Montana 1948 by Larry Watson. I am always open to hearing about a good book. Some I buy and most I check out at the library. As to your post, I don't go to movies much, maybe once a year. Funny, huh. We just don't go to the movie theater, but we do watch some at home mostly again what we check out at the library. Music and reading take up most of our days.

  9. You write an incredible movie review! I haven't seen this movie either, but because of your review, I want to see it soon!

  10. Some parents back then only wanted their daughters to get married! Thanks for the review!

  11. I will have to put this one on my 'watch when it's on cable' list.

  12. Looks like an interesting film D-Jan. Ah, I remember London in 1961. Girls got married a lot younger then than they do now and parents were more than happy to shed the responsibility. It was pre birth pill so there was always the danger of the daughter getting pregnant and the parents having the disgrace of that event on their doorstep. How times have changed!
    Blessings, Star

  13. I too will probably check this one out when it hits cable. Like many have said above I see nothing unusual about the parents behavior, not for 1961. A young girl was expected to marry and have a family, that was far more important than an education in that time period for females at least. I'm glad I came along a little later in time.

  14. Hehehe... and this is the reason why I'm hobbling around on crutches! Fell down the stairs exiting the cinema after this one! :s

    But like I tell people, at least it was all in the cause of a good movie! ;o)

    It's odd how I both really enjoyed it, and was cringing throughout most of it. I knew the guy was too good to be true, but that ending?! GRRRRR!!!!

    Here was my take on it (as well as a few others):

    My favourite scene was her confrontation with her closet anti-semitic headmistress, it was so ridiculously over-the-top and yet realistic! Emma Thompson just nailed it! Pity it was in Spanish though... :p


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