Film: An Education
Posted on December 28, 2009
We just saw a most delightful film, Lone Sherfig’s An Education. It’s a British coming-of-age story set in the 1960s and centers on Jenny, a bright and mature beyond her years school girl that years for a life bigger than the drab, post-war suburban lifestyle of her bourgeois parents or the seemingly suppressed life of her teachers. She falls for a suave, older man, played by Peter Sarsgaard, and he takes her on a dizzying ascent (or descent) into the world of jazz clubs, art auctions, concerts, and even her dreamed of Paris.
I’ll stop there with the plot. Carey Muilligan plays Jenny and should receive a Best Actress nomination for her pitch perfect performance. It is a stunningly good performance in an array of top notch performances by veterans like Emma Thompson and Afred Molina. Sarsgaard almost matches Mulligan’s performance, seducing us as much as her, though we know from the first scene that this encounter must come to no good.
Nick Hornby, one of my favorite writers, did the screenplay and I was reminded of how good he is at capturing young people. Coincidentally, I just this weekend finished his 2007 novel Slam, the story of a teenage pregnancy told from the perspective of the young father. It’s not one of his best novels, but Hornby, even off his game, writes with a great sense of social satire and class anxiety (he is British after all), and puts us in the mind and heart of a teenager with engaging empathy, an ability amply on display in his screenplay for An Education.
On a final note, we saw An Education at Red River, the non-profit art movie house in Concord. It was our first time there and we loved it. It is a gem and I can’t believe it has taken us this long to discover it. When there is just so much awful stuff being shown in the mainstream cinema chains, Red River offers the kind of independent and art films for which we have been traveling to Cambridge to find. Life just got better.