Adolescence is a bitch.

How do we ever manage to put it all behind us?

Certainly many of us felt that we invented sex at 16 and knew precisely what life was all about back then.

It’s only after a few years have been well lived that you realize fully how little you actually understood anything.

It is 1961 in London.

JENNY (CAREY MULLIGAN) is a supremely sophisticated teenager. She’s unsuccessfully fighting extreme restlessness and boredom.

Her parents are a bit bourgeois but decent. Her father JACK (ALFRED MOLINA) is determined that she go to Oxford.

Jenny is open to the idea. But is there an actual point to all of this?

Bear in mind that the early 1960s were half a century ago. Women were not yet liberated on a grand scale. Career options were extremely limited for females. Reliable birth control and the sexual revolution were still several years away.

It was a drastically different age. Girls often married and had families very young. They grew up fast and were aware of their responsibilities early. It was extraordinarily different from the 21st century – where people take decades to find themselves and everyone’s wild, misguided youth stretches out to the age of 35.

Jenny is unsure of her future. But she longs for something exciting without knowing exactly what that might entail.

Her classmate, adorable, fresh faced GRAHAM (MICHAEL BEARD) worships the ground that she walks on. He tries. But he’s terribly awkward and naive.

Frankly, he’s too much of a boy for a girl who’s wise beyond her years.

One rainy afternoon after school, Jenny is waiting for a bus – cello in hand. She has no idea that her casual encounter with DAVID GOLDMAN (PETER SARSGAARD) will transform her life irrevocably.

He tells her that he’s a music lover and he couldn’t bear to see her instrument get wet and ruined. But he understands that he’s a stranger. So he promises to pack it safely in his car while she walks alongside.

Finally they both agree that this arrangement is just too ridiculous. She’s getting soaked. So Jenny slips into the front seat beside him.

David drives a rare burgundy luxury automobile that looks vaguely like a Jag. He has manners, refinement, wit…and he’s also easily 15 years older.

David is her dark exotic prince come to life.

He effortlessly talks her initially reluctant parents into letting her go out with him. He kisses her mother’s hand and teasingly reprimands Jenny for not telling him that she has a sister.

Smooth. Very smooth. Like a knife in butter…

They meet up with David’s friends HELEN (ROSAMUND PIKE) and DANNY (DOMINIC COOPER) at a classical concert.

Danny is polite and kind to Jenny. But there is a volatile, treacherous undercurrent to his nature. He eventually grows fond of the young girl. So much so that he begins to have second thoughts about her welfare.

Helen is a gorgeous English mod version of Catherine Deneuve with a sublime classic wardrobe. Those clothes could still be worn today and cause the same startling effect. Helen looks like she stepped directly out of an Alberta Ferretti ad.

She is warm towards Jenny as well. Underneath her high wattage glamour, she is unfailingly unpretentious. But she clearly can’t keep up with Jenny and the boys on an intellectual or common sense level.

Helen is decidedly dim.

Jenny exudes maturity. But she’s in way over her head with those two men.

Besides lying to her parents and flattering them in an empty, shallow way, David carefully avoids telling Jenny what he does for a living. He has ample funds to take her to nightclubs or wherever she desires. But he’s oddly mysterious about many details in his life.

Jenny’s excellent grades begin to fall precipitously. But she’s past the point of caring. Why should she attend Oxford when she can go out and have fun doing whatever interests her?

She has access to the best music, the most extravagant hangouts and the loveliest weekends imaginable. It is entirely because of David.

Jenny grew up with the idealistic notion that she would lose her virginity on her seventeenth birthday. Whoever she was involved with at that point would be the man that would sweep her off that pedestal and into a brand new adult world.

As that time draws near and her relationship with David intensifies, he promises to take her to Paris.

She tells him in their hotel room that she wants to postpone the momentous occasion until that specific date. David claims to have no problems with her sexual morality. He grabs her and whispers in a husky undertone, “We can still be romantic.”

When the fateful day finally dawns, she tells him after the fact that she found it disappointing…and very, very short.

Not at all surprising. In this existence, there are givers and there are takers.

Jenny has no conception that this idyllic highly charged romance – which she inadvertently gave up everything for – is set to coast into some surprisingly brutal waters.

She is about to become a woman in ways that she never imagined.

AN EDUCATION is based on LYNN BARBER’S memoir of the same name while the adaptation was done by novelist NICK HORNBY.

The art direction is breathtaking. The period details are authentic and astounding.

The cinematography is luminous and incredibly striking. Many night shots are enveloped in shades of deep purple and iris blue. It’s been a long time since Paris looked so ravishingly radiant on film.

Danish auteur LONE SCHERFIG is an assured and capable filmmaker. She is clearly an actor’s director with an excellent understanding of performance.

From the moment that the dream like wonder of FLOYD CRAMER’S ON THE REBOUND plays over the opening credits, you are pulled in magnetically.

The ending and resolution are rather abrupt. But, up until the last 15 minutes, it is a greatly enjoyable ride.

ALFRED MOLINA is sensational as Jenny’s blustering father. Though he feels that he has to be strict, he loves his daughter dearly and attempts to do the right thing.

DOMINIC COOPER is superb as David’s morally bankrupt friend who finally comes to the realization that Jenny is someone special.

ROSAMUND PIKE gives a skilled comedic rendering as the great looking, monumentally stylish and easily confused HELEN.

PETER SARSGAARD has never had an opportunity to be this seductive, charming or elegant. He takes it and runs with it. His impeccable British accent is flawless. PETER also has a wonderful scene where he breaks down emotionally in his car. He is magnificent beyond measure.

The fabulously accomplished SALLY HAWKINS shows up in a cameo just before the end.

But the entire film rests on CAREY MULLIGAN’S shoulders and she delivers. She possesses exceptional depth and grace. She begins as a precocious starry eyed kid and ends up as a cautious, deliberate young adult in the space of less than two hours.

This is her breakthrough role. She is utterly delightful.

AN EDUCATION is a potent, poisonous and poignant tale of growing up, learning the hard lessons and then letting it all go.

As always, experience is the best teacher.

20 Responses to “AN EDUCATION ****”

  1. As always, experience is the best teacher.

    no i thought getting a reply from you was the best teacher. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    hmm, i do want to see an education.

    and did you say sally hawkins…well some say carey mulligan will have some awrd success this season. and if she does i hope she does a pic with an award that can rival *that* pic of sally from last year.

    yep that pic was the only good thing about last year’s award season.

    hey m., does it seem a lot of critics have a bit of crush on mulligan? i think some special feelings are lurking behind their words.

    i think i noticed her a bit when there was that that bit on her/an education and she metioned she was going to auditions or whatever in LA via riding the bus.

    ha. i ride the bus. but that’s because i’m too lame to learn how to drive.

    but see i ride the bus. she rides the bus. a connection is there.

    *Ha Ha Ha*

    sally’s character in happy go lucky couldn’t drive. carey was riding the bus.

    hmm i think i may get that special picture this year after all…

    la la la…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Hmmm…

    Somebody sure seems bright eyed and bushy tailed. That’s lovely to see.

    No. I thought getting a reply from you was the best teacher.

    You’re so sweet, glimby. Almost brings a tear to my eye. ALMOST.

    Really? So you want to watch AN EDUCATION, glim? I’m actually kinda surprised. I didn’t think it would be up your alley. I don’t know if it would be to your particular taste. But you could always give it a try.

    Yeah, I had to be awfully careful about discussing SALLY’S participation in this particular film. I think it’s enough to state that she appears in one brief scene towards the end of the movie.

    But I will say no more.

    Hell, you and your SALLY HAWKINS pic. I forgot. You were obsessed with that.

    I guess that you and I will cheerfully split on the awards season last year. What happened with HEATH was a terrible tragedy. But he deserved every accolade he got for that performance.

    I really dig KATE. With that glorious one two punch she walked away with TWO GOLDEN GLOBES and the OSCAR. She gave powerhouse performances in RR and THE READER.

    She deserved it.

    Plus SEAN PENN won his second ACADEMY AWARD on top of it. All of that Slumdog nonsense was totally unnecessary. But you have to take the good with the bad.

    So I was pretty happy over all. Most of the awards ended up where they should have been. I had very few complaints.

    CAREY is a real find. She is sensational in AE. She probably will be nominated.

    But then again SALLY wasn’t, glim – and everyone expected her to be. Who knows?

    I’m glad CAREY is getting a fair amount of attention for this. It’s wonderful work.

    Craig actually mentioned what you just said. He explained that he felt that, as good as she is, CAREY was getting a fair amount of affection from the critical community because a certain percentage of the guys writing those reviews had a thing for her.

    Not to take anything away from her excellent performance…

    But I’m sure that’s true. Some movie critics are nerdy little dudes. I’m sure someone like CAREY would be a dream girl to them.

    You’re right. CAREY said that she’d been bussing it around the LA area to go to auditions. If ever there was a town where you SHOULD NOT take the bus, it’s definitely LA.

    But once people get a load of AE, her bus riding days are probably over. I’m sure some major crtics awards are coming her way. As long as MERYL’S not in her category, she has an excellent shot at a GLOBE too.

    glim, learn to drive. Then you can pick CAREY up and take her some place nice. She just might be in Houston one day.

    Sometimes wonderful things happen right out of the blue. Have to be prepared, honey.

    You just never kmow…

  3. Really? So you want to watch AN EDUCATION, glim? Iโ€™m actually kinda surprised. I didnโ€™t think it would be up your alley. I donโ€™t know if it would be to your particular taste. But you could always give it a try.

    hmm do you think i would miss this…

    Upon finally bedding down with her older suitor, Jenny remarks, “All that poetry and all those songs about something that lasts no time at all.”

    really i think i need to see this. ha ha…that’s just so pure. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    hmm, stole that snippet from here…

    oh don’t think you’re going to totally escape from some words you wrote. yes i’m horrible…smile…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    But Iโ€™m sure thatโ€™s true. Some movie critics are nerdy little dudes. I’m sure someone like CAREY would be a dream girl to them.

    details and well details or at least one or two.why/how is carey and or the character in an education??? a dream like female to them???

    gosh, web guys can just not read m.’s reply. but i’m curious what the word maven will say. ๐Ÿ™‚

    sorry guys, remember being a geek never means having to say you’re sorry. ๐Ÿ™‚ (yep i asked…)

    so write away ms.m. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. You are so terribly naughty.

    If you weren’t my friend, I would think that you were trying to lead me down the primrose path, baby.

    What the hell??? Do you think I want the entire male film critic establishment to be choked at me?

    Come on, glimster. Ha ha. Give me a break. PLEASE.

    Look, for all I know there may be male film critics out there (possibly even in North America…) that are hot as hell or movie star handsome.

    I’m just saying that the ones that I’ve seen generally are either fresh faced boys or older guys that look slightly nerdy.

    Whoever’s reading this, I swear I wasn’t trying to offend. I think intelligent men are awesome.

    glim dug a hole for me. Now I’m just trying to climb out of it, Christian Louboutin shoes and all…

    Yeah, I think that CAREY is appealing to those guys because she’s – supposedly – attainable. On the surface (at least…) she appears to be the kind of girl that they imagine they could actually go out with.

    Don’t get me wrong. I thought that PETER gave a fantastic performance and I really liked the film. But I didn’t understand what actually happened to JENNY until I saw it.

    PETER’S character was a sleazeball and a liar. Certainly most females have come across that kind of guy some time in their lives – and most had the good sense to figure out what he was up to and avoid him.

    But JENNY was just a kid with no actual life experience – and I felt that that was really low.

    Of course he was a lousy lay. He was a selfish pig.

    JENNY should have found him and told him right the hell off. He could have used a good beatdown, I’m thinking.

    I just don’t like to see young girls (or even guys for that matter) fall prey to these kinds of idiots.

    They have their whole lives ahead of them to make egregious mistakes and get involved with the wrong people.

    Once you’ve seen AN EDUCATION, you’ll have to tell me what you think, glim.

    I’ll be looking forward to that discussion. Believe me…


    houston is in the coming soon section.

    so maybe in a while… ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Carey Mulligan sees similarities between Jenny’s growing scepticism about the advantages of a conventional education and her own attitude to school.

    “I went from being quite academic to losing interest in all that sort of stuff,” she said.

    “When my father moved abroad for work, I went to a boarding school where you can get away with murder. I felt like Jenny feels in that I could write a really good essay and get an A but it wasn’t that interesting because I knew what boxes to tick.”

    “And I think she gives a really good argument for why she should leave. But I had fun at boarding school. I didn’t enjoy the academic side really, but at boarding school you form really close relationships.”

    stole that tidbit from here…

  7. PETERโ€™S character was a sleazeball and a liar sort of like ??? ; )

    ha ha…

  8. I think CAREY is a really interesting young actor. She’ll go far. But this is her very first shot across the bow.

    It will be fascinating to see what she comes up with in the future. That girl has the goods.

    Thanks for that, glimby.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha HAH.

    Holy hell.

    That’s just like my sweet girl Zelda. She is fearless. She’s little. But she bows to no one. I’ve seen her tackle cats three times her size in my back yard. She struts over, puts her nose right up against theirs and growls right in their faces.

    She actually just came in the room because I had the sound from that clip on. My girl always has to be on top of the action.

    Zelda is spayed. Yet all the other cats come hang out here. I don’t get it.

    It’s not for her god damn charming personality, that’s for sure.

    Tough as nails and she lures all the boys over to her place.


    Wonder where she got that from…?

  9. Thatโ€™s just like my sweet girl Zelda. She is fearless. Sheโ€™s little. But she bows to no one. Iโ€™ve seen her tackle cats three times her size in my back yard.

    i guess zelda gives fighting lessons… ๐Ÿ˜‰–right-middle-traffic-jam.html

  10. You crack me up, little baby.

    My darling Zelda, like her owner, is one tough chick. She was a stray when my mom found her. She had all ready had two litters of kittens. Poor Zelda had a really horrendous life.

    But my mom wanted her. So she has a nice comfy home now. She’ll always be a bit wild. She had to survive on her own for too long.

    But she’s got a pretty cushy pad here. So I think she truly lucked out. I take excellent care of her.

    As for that lion…

    Shame she had to be so predatory. You know what they should do with predators? I have a few ideas I’ve been kicking around.

    If you know what I mean.

    After all, I’m a lion. Guess I’m too sophisticated and above it all to be drawn into all that.

    Oh, well. Guess we’ll all get what’s coming to us. Good, bad or indifferent.

    Sooner or later…

  11. glim, learn to drive. Then you can pick CAREY up and take her some place nice. She just might be in Houston one day.

    this is why i don’t drive…

  12. Hardy har har…

    Now that’s an extreme case, darlin.

    Well, you should learn, glim. Chicks like cars, you know. Driving’s a lot of fun.

    Guess you and CAREY will have to take cabs.

    But if she really likes you, she won’t mind.

  13. how about i tell her i’m learning to drive/ok, that’s a lie.

    give me a break.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    but wow with this…

    ha ha…

  14. Now, now, my delightful little southern man…

    You really shouldn’t be starting out any new relationship with dishonesty. That will not bode well for the future.

    You have to be a good boy if there are to be any wondrous rewards down the road. Get my drift?

    Maybe you could tell CAREY that you’re thinking about learning to drive…?

    Yeah, that’s the ticket. Some days semantics are the whole enchilada.

    glimby, you have the most brilliant selection of YouTube clips lately.

    Whatever would I do without you???


    this article with a spotlight on carey hit the houston chronicle web site and made the chronicle newspaper today. funny the feature in the entertainment section of the paper was a more glam pic of carey than the one used on the web site.

    (article the same on both)

    ok i’m gonna feel sort of stupid if i don’t like AN EDUCATION and/or carey in this film. but hey let’s just call it the continuation of my geek education if this film fails.

    ha ha…

    AN EDUCATION hits houston today via the landmark….

  16. Look, my darling…

    There is no need to feel stupid. Even a little bit. You’re among friends here.

    Besides, it really doesn’t matter anyway.

    You’re a very intelligent guy with plenty of insight. You don’t have to bow down to anyone. The way you feel about something is entirely sufficient.

    The world be damned…

    glim, I think AN EDUCATION is a nice little movie. LONE SCHERFIG is a talent to be reckoned with. This is her first English language feature and she did an admirable job.

    She’s a superb actor’s director. Definitely is able to intuit how to get the best performances out of everyone. It’s a great looking picture. But it probably won’t make my TOP 10.

    However it strikes you after you’ve experienced it, swing by and dish. I genuinely want to hear your impressions.

    Whatever they might be. It’s all good…

  17. ok sloww mo…i caught an education a couple of mondays ago. whenever…

    and uh this is the film that has soooooo many screaming oscar buzz??? hell i didn’t hate it. but don’t think the ultra oscar buzz should be handed to it/with so many stating lock and i think its buzz would be just as strong in a only five nom year too. huh???

    still about 90 times better than a period piece film. oh what this was sort of a period film but you get how i’m thinking.

    now ms m. i know you’ve been on pins/needles on this… ; )

    my take on the carey thing. well, she was ok but she didn’t cast a spell in geekland. so all you other bloggers that are pretty crushed on her should be glad that i’m out of the game.

    *ha ha ha * ๐Ÿ˜‰

    really i may have been wowed by her more if i liked the film more. and i wonder how the masses/usual guy types will like carey when they get intro’ed to her in that wall street 2 thing. oh and if an education casts that oscar glow. guess a few will know her name even sooner…

    anyway m., think the legal age in england is 16. so the older guy with a 16 year old isn’t as eyebrow raising as it would be in the states.

    but speaking of an education…

    am i the only one that cares about the education graham got?

    he was doing ok with jenny/and then got blow out of water in about three seconds and not just in a gentle breeze style either/by the guy that was cooler/had more money/had more style/was more suave.

    i mean hell she didn’t even speak to graham any more. i know it’s about jenny. but reviewers don’t even give a damn about graham. (nor do they pretend to.)

    graham had a very interesting education and pretty much no one cared. oh well, when you don’t have the looks etc., well the losing just works.

    and so on and so on…

    i really wondered what happened to graham and i’m pretty much the only one to care.

    yeah i know it wasn’t his movie. but what review was even curious enough to mention/ask about graham or how he felt???

    i really felt sorry for graham when he met jenny post her being wowed by the rich guy (no let’s not give him a name) while he was on his bike and her being with her friends who knew what was going on…

    graham thought he had a chance. but his chances were not even close.

    sad scene…

  18. Very interesting stuff, glimster.

    Yeah, I thought that AE might not be to your particular taste.

    Well, I don’t have anything against Jenny having sex at 16 or 17. I did. So have millions of other people. I just hate the fact that she did it with someone approximately 15 years older.

    Not to get up on my soapbox (again), but everyone has been disappointed by love or had their heart broken. EVERYBODY at some time. But there’s a huge difference between having a romantic letdown at 25 and losing your virginity to some jackass.

    Especially if it was Jenny’s situation – where she eventually found out that she was one girl in a long, long line of them.


    When SALLY HAWKINS’ character talks to her just before the end and says, “Are you in the family way? That’s happened before too,” I almost had to restrain myself.

    Poor Jenny. What a scumbag.

    *******END SPOILERS*********

    Like I said, I did admire many aspects of AE. It’s well made and the acting is great. But there’s a lot that left a very bad taste in my mouth. That’s all pretty extreme. Stuff like that does happen. The film is based on a memoir, after all.

    But when people are young a lot of that is pretty tragic and much harder to get over. I’ve heard stories from people that were absolutely heartbreaking.

    glim, I cared about Graham. I even mentioned him in my review. But, as you say, it wasn’t his movie. It’s Jenny’s life and her arc.

    Believe me. It had nothing to do with looks. Graham was gorgeous. David (as in PETER SARSGAARD) is an attractive guy. But I wouldn’t say he’s a pretty boy.

    This is why girls at that age (especially the grown up emotionally mature ones) will ALMOST ALWAYS go for the older dudes. Even when it’s (border line or blatantly) inappropriate.

    David had wit and style and sophistication. He also had money. So he could take her places and do things for her that Graham never could. David was hip to the ways of the world.

    It may be unspeakably cruel. But Graham was just so sensitive and sweet and awkward. Jenny NEVER took him seriously. Even if David had never come into the picture, he still would’ve lost her.

    Jenny was looking towards her future. She wasn’t sure about Oxford and she was dying to put her commonplace suburban existence behind her. She thought David was a way out. Plus he had all these things that he could show her. He could take her to Paris. For a 16 year old, that’s pretty swoon worthy stuff.

    And the jerk knew that too. He took full advantage of it. It had certainly worked before.

    Graham never had a chance. However, if he had looked exactly the same, been at least 18 with a car like David’s and a slick line, then Jenny would have followed him anywhere.

    Graham possessed no life experience and had nothing to offer her. Girls can be awful to lovely sensitive guys. They say they’re too nice, tell them to take a hike and then bed down with some creep that will give them endless amounts of grief.

    I’ve seen this over and over and over again. Many women do waste their precious time on idiots. It could be a self esteem issue or they might have some misguided idea that a nice guy isn’t really exciting.

    Dumb move. Only a decent man will ever give you what you really want…or need. Takes far too much time for many chicks to get that straight.

    Too bad.

    So you’re not crushed out on CAREY any more then? We’ll have to find you someone new, glimster.

    And I don’t think CAREY’S winning the OSCAR. I imagine she’ll be nominated. But I don’t think she’s going to take it home.

    It’ll be someone else. I’m practically positive of that.

    It’s just a feeling that I have….

  19. i feel graham would have been blown out of the water even if there wasn’t an age difference etc. just based on the personality difference…

    also the big joke is after her encounter with the rich guy when she hit oxford i bet she’d be willing to give a graham type another try. so i think she went ok for the rich guy and maybe for a graham type post the rich guy.

    but poor graham got nothing. arrgh… oh well guess he still had his bike… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    i hope beard/graham gets a best supporting actor nom. i want graham to have something.

    where the losers at???

    yeah i know that sounds insane. yeah…

    Believe me. It had nothing to do with looks.

    i know i was using that as code for a lot of things/and just seemed to fit for what i was trying to put across and i always like typing phrases like that on the screen.

    so why not??? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    anyway as always thanks for your reply !!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. It’s my absolute and unadulterated pleasure, glim.

    I enjoy responding to your posts. You give me more food for thought than almost anyone.

    Well, Jenny was pretty sharp and grown up for 16. But she wasn’t nearly as smart as she thought she was. Poor Graham was like a little lap dog around her. He tried too hard.

    Girls never like that.

    But he was so young that he thought he had nothing to lose by being genuine and wearing his heart on his sleeve. Later on (in his 20s), that might be acceptable. But teenage girls think they know what they want. Very few of them are looking for a boy like Graham. It’s a wicked shame. But it’s all too true.

    Oh, well. Guess he still had his bike.

    You’re hysterical, glim. I feel so bad for Graham. But that is genuinely funny.

    I don’t think there’s anything remotely wrong with wanting MICHAEL BEARD to get a BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR nod. But it won’t happen. He was in it too briefly.

    People are all ready saying that PETER SARSGAARD hasn’t got a hope in hell and he not only gave a very strong performance but he had an extremely big part. If anyone gets in, it’s supposed to be ALFRED MOLINA.

    That would be fine by me. ALFRED MOLINA should have had several OSCAR nods by now. It’s about time he got recognized.

    But MICHAEL could easily build on his success from AE and get awards attention somewhere down the road. You never know about these things.

    Not a big deal, glimster. The universe will unfold as it should. Everything will work out just the way it was supposed to.

    Count on it….

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