An Education (M)

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The ViewChristchurch Review

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Review byMatthew Turner2/12/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Extremely enjoyable, impressively directed and frequently funny coming-of-age drama with a sharply written, emotionally engaging script and a star-making performance from Carey Mulligan that will almost certainly net her a Best Actress nomination come Oscar-time.

What's it all about?
Directed by Lone Scherfig (Italian For Beginners, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself) and based on the memoir by journalist Lynn Barber, An Education is set in 1961 London and stars Carey Mulligan as 16-year-old Jenny, a gifted student who's on track for a place at Oxford University, much to the delight of both her literature teacher (Olivia Williams) and her aspirational parents (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour). However, when she meets David (Peter Sarsgaard), a charismatic older man, she's swept off her feet by his sophisticated friends (Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike) and his seemingly glamorous, grown-up life, so it isn't long before she's wondering if Oxford is really the right thing for her after all.

The Good
Carey Mulligan is sensational as the self-assured, pretentious yet likeable Jenny, who's clearly hungry for adulthood and longing to live a literary life in Paris. As such, she delivers a warm-hearted, dryly funny and achingly confident performance that is almost certain to net her a Best Actress nomination come Oscar time.

Peter Sarsgaard is equally good as David, particularly when the seedier edges of his character gradually reveal themselves. There's also terrific support from Alfred Molina (who's as charmed by David as Jenny is), Olivia Williams (whose character clearly sees something of herself in Jenny), Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike (hilarious), as well as a superb two-scene cameo from a perfectly cast Emma Thompson as Jenny's headmistress.

The Great
The film is beautifully directed, with impeccable production design work that perfectly captures a 1960s London that hasn't quite learned how to swing yet. In addition, Scherfig gets the balance exactly right (aided by Nick Hornby's excellent script), lacing the darker moments with an appealing layer of humour, whilst also gently exploring the thought-provoking central theme of education versus life experience.

Worth seeing?
An Education is a hugely entertaining, superbly directed and brilliantly written coming-of-age drama with an Oscar-worthy performance from rising star Carey Mulligan. Highly recommended.

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An Education (M)
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