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An Education

Based on a memoir by British journalist Lynn Barber and filtered through a Nick Hornby screenplay, An Education is a sometimes-convincing coming of age story set in England in the early sixties. The film’s strongest points are the performances of its actors. Peter Sarsgaard as the too good to be true older man David and Carey Mulligan and the not so innocent teenage Jenny are both outstanding.


Jenny is being raised by the archetype pushy Father and understanding Mother as an only child in a typical English row house. She is intelligent and studious and gets good grades in school. She is also intelligent enough to be bored with what her current situation has to offer. This is the sixties and extraordinary things are happening all over the world except in her hometown. Along comes the older man David and sweeps her off her feet.

In one of those cases of the audience always being one-step ahead of what progresses on-screen, the story offers few surprises. The transition of Jenny’s parents from overprotective guardians to co-conspirators while even if accurate to Barber’s true story feels false. There is enough authenticity to carry some elements of the story but overall it’s less than totally convincing.

You tend to ignore some elements of the story and just enjoy the performances but then a strange thing happens. The film with a running time of only 95 minutes has one of the most rushed feeling final acts on record. It’s a strange way to end a film and feels like the product of too many test screenings.  It’s still worth seeing if for nothing else but the actor’s fine work but the believability and pacing of the story are a bit of a letdown.
Rob Hudson
www.sonyclassics.com

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