Sounds like a Pink Floyd song.
Jenny’s (Carey Mulligan) Oxford-bound teen life is undistinguished in 1961 London until she’s given a different kind of education after being immersed in the beguiling but hazardous world of cultured and much-older David (Peter Sarsgaard). Even Jenny’s father, Jack (Alfred Molina), is intrigued by him, but her school’s unimpressed headmistress (Emma Thompson) works to keep Jenny’s entire future from crumbling under David’s influence.
Set in 1961 London, “An Education” tells the all too familiar tale of a high school girl seduced by an older cad. The girl in question is tops in her class and bound for Oxford. She repeatedly beseeches the adults around her to give her a compelling reason to go to Oxford rather than run off with the cad.
The film isn’t so much about the relationship, and surprisingly isn’t terribly sexual with its PG-13 rating. It is actually more about Jenny, and how she is finally introduced into this new world, that she was so sheltered from due to school. This is about discovering a new part of the world, after being sheltered for so long.
The film is depicted in the 60’s and I really did feel like I was in it. You could feel that slight bit of change in the culture. Like honestly why were women getting an education in the 60’s, because there weren’t any options open for them after they got their degree.
The one thing that got me with this film is that it doesn’t quite hold up all the way. The dialogue is a bit implausible, and that does start to show by the third act. I’m not going to say that I knew what was going to happen but I will say I kind of had a feeling that all of this was too good to be true. I feel like a lot of the writing does add a lot to the uncomfortable level in this film, and that I had a problem with at times.
The real saving grace from this film is the amazing lead performance from Carey Mulligan. Mulligan gives out the definition of a star-making performance, because the role of a girl losing her innocence and going from wide-eyed to sassy know-it-all, it is not an easy role, but she is spot on. Peter Sarsgaard is perfectly cast here, I find him super creepy and also very charming and likable, and I never knew which one of those things he is.
Consensus: The dialogue may run out of steam by the third act, but An Education blossoms with its great coming-of-age themes with a new twist, and a star-making performance from Mulligan.