Monday, September 5, 2016
52 Films By Women: An Education (2009)
An Education follows the story of a student named Jenny (Carey Mulligan) who is on her way to becoming a student at Oxford to please her family and her peers. But she starts to find her future uncertain when she becomes swept off her feet by an older man named David (Peter Sarsgaard). As she grows closer to David and his special band of friends, she begins to have a different kind of education.
The film is carried successfully and with absolute precision by Carey Mulligan's performance. Whether she's singing along to a French record or standing in the rain with her cello, you cannot help but fall in love with her all the way through. You laugh with her, you want her to persevere, and most importantly, your heart breaks with her. THIS is what a "star is born" moment feels like.
Mulligan is also surrounded by an amazing ensemble cast. Alfred Molina brings a very stern warmth to the role of Jenny's father who tries to disapprove of Jenny's lifestyle choices yet still wants to give her more freedom. I also enjoyed Rosamund Pike who plays Helen, a socialite that's a part of David's gang. Pike provides comic relief as a woman who is rather naive yet sort of takes Jenny under her wing. This is a complete 360 from her Amazing Amy in Gone Girl. The other cast members, Peter Sarsgaard, Dominic Cooper, Olivia Williams, and Emma Thompson, are all aces as well.
One thing that I took away from the film's title is that it has a double meaning. Jenny gets an education from school and when she's exposed to the higher class lifestyle that David enjoys, she's getting a real world education without the use of books and papers. By deciding whether she wants to stay in school or spend more time with her newfound love, Jenny is basically deciding what kind of education she wants to receive: Be bored with books in a contained, collegiate environment or be more adventurous in the real world while becoming exposed to its harsher truths.
This is something that college students like myself can identify with because as you become hit with long paper assignments and heavy books semester after semester, you just want to go out and experience the real world even if life there is harder than in college. Despite the film being set in the early 60's, its themes are still prevalent today.
Overall, An Education is a film with a perfectly good title about the purpose of an education and what kind we may choose to receive. It is also packed with both charm and depth thanks to its flawless lead performance by Carey Mulligan.