An Education – Review (Spoiler Free)

An Education Theatrical Poster - Wikipedia

An Education tells the story of a middleclass 16 year old girl in the 60’s named Jenny (Carey Mulligan), who talks and dreams of how she will live her life once she has managed to get into Oxford University and away from her parents. She will smoke cigarettes, speak French and dress in black, listen to whatever music she wants etc. Then along comes a much older man (Peter Sarsgaard) who can offer her access to everything that she dreams of; as well as other things such as jazz clubs and expensive art. Adapted from Lynn Barber’s memoir by Nick Hornby, this film deals with the allure of a worldly, experience based education against an academic one, and does a pretty good job of not preaching to us. It does feel as if it could have been taken a little further, have been a little harder hitting, which makes sense because I understand that Hornby softened some of the edges of the memoir when writing his adaptation. That aside, this is an enjoyable film, has several really good performances, and would be worth checking out if you ever have the chance.

This film is the one that’s often said to have really put Carey Mulligan on the map, and being a fan of her work I really had to check it out. If that wasn’t enough though, the excellent cast really would have convinced me. It includes; Olivia Williams, Cara Seymour, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Dominic Cooper and Emma Thompson. That’s a pretty impressive collection of people if you ask me, and although they have varying amounts of screen time (Thompson has little more than a cameo) they all do a great job with their roles, Molina and Williams being particular noteworthy. It’s a shame that some of these couldn’t have had a little more to do, especially as I’ve already noted that the film felt a little reserved and as if it could have been filled in a little more, but still they all do a good job with what they are given.

Overall, An Education is a witty and at times affecting film. It has a great central performance by Mulligan, and avoids falling into several traps that the subject matter could have led it into. I recommend seeing it; it’s funny, entertaining and somewhat life affirming, just don’t sit down to it expecting the exceptional film that some critics described it as.

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15 comments

  1. Great review! I really liked the movie, Mulligan was great but the supporting performances from Molina and Pike really deserved more recognition.

    1. Thanks! It is a good film. I just felt that I had to compensate for some of the really high praise that it had received.
      Molina was great, but then when isn’t he? Pike surprised me, I always thought that she was a great actress, but she played against type so wonderfully here and it caught me a little off guard 🙂 .
      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Oh yeah, I totally wanted to see this! And then of course I forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me – great review!

    1. Cheers, and I hope you get around to seeing it. It’s a nice little film and is worth a watch.

  3. […] Rumsey saw An Education and now I really want to see it again, just for the fun of […]

  4. Nice review. I haven’t seen this one in awhile, but I remember being slightly surprised by how much it actually emotionally-impacted me. However, I did sort of know how it was going to end so maybe that took away a bit from the overall, viewing-experience.

    1. Cheers 🙂
      Yeah this one surprised me by hitting a little harder than I expected it too, that being said, I then wished it taken that further and been more emotionally involving.
      I assumed the ending fairly early in, but it still worked for me because as we said it created a genuinely emotional response.

  5. Your final words pretty much described my reaction to the film. I was like “That’s it?”. It’s a very nice film and I am very fond of it, but it’s a bit overrated. Great review.

    1. Thanks, yeah there really isn’t anything wrong with it, you just have to control your expectations for it being anything more than a very good film.

  6. I dont get it did the guy like her from the heart or? Omg i really dont get it at the end with the letters. Yes i understood that he lives with his wife so what? And when she goes and talks to his wife.. The wife says “Ohh youre a child” DONT GET IT

    1. My interpretation is that due to his childlike love for her he probably believes himself to be in love with her, but he is immature and irresponsible and ultimately he will quite easily move on to the next girl he meets. There’s an interesting deleted scene where they meet in Oxford at the end actually, if you wanted to look that up.
      Well the so what about him being married is that he and her were supposed to be engaged, that he has been lying to her, and that he has in fact betrayed her. Naturally this upsets her and the family.
      the wife saying about her being a child is just her commenting on the situation, and how upsetting it is that somebody so young has been taken in by his act and had her heart broken. At least I don’t remember any other meaning going on when I watched it.
      Does any of that help?

  7. Great post, still need to see this one.

    1. Thanks man, it’s definitely worth checking out 😀

      1. Will do, thanks for the recommendation.

        1. No problem buddy!

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