Sunday, February 07, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: An Education

Number of Nominations: 3 (Best Picture, Best Actress - Carey Mulligan, Best Adapted Screenplay)
Availability in the US: In Select Theatres (Check Showtimes)

An Education is a disturbing film about Jenny, a 16-year old girl played almost perfectly by Carey Mulligan, and her romantic relationship with David (Peter Sarsgaard), a man twice her age, in 1960s suburban London. David charms Jenny’s parents into letting him take her to museums, shows, and even a weekend in Paris for her birthday, all the while seducing her and bringing her into his life of crime. The film is, as you may guess from the somewhat uncomfortable subject matter, likely to make you squirm a bit, but it is certainly worth the discomfort. David charms the audience too, so that the twist at the end of the second act will actually catch most off guard.

An Education passes with flying colors because of an amazing cast; besides Sarsgaard and Mulligan, keep an eye on Alfred Molina as Jenny’s abashedly anti-Semitic, but well meaning, father. Mulligan, 25, manages to effortlessly channel a 16-year old virgin, looking for a little excitement and adventure beyond her suburban life. She easily gets taken in by David’s gentle charm. Only later do David’s lies and deceptions begin to take the stars from her eyes.

The script and direction are excellent; every bit of dialogue is engaging, well written, and advances the story. At just over 90 minutes, not a minute of screen-time goes to waste, with the story unfolding at an even and satisfying pace.

An Education will surprise, entertain, and move you. Though it is unlikely to win in the Best Picture or Best Actress categories, watch out for a possible upset for Best Adapted Screenplay. It is certainly deserving of the recognition.

Grade: A-

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