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Monday, 7 June 2010

I was immensely relieved to learn that An Education (dir Lone Scherfig, 2009) is based on an autobiographical memoir. And the best thing about the film is Carey Mulligan as Jenny, the character based on British journalist Lynn Barber, who wrote the book Nick Hornby based the screenplay on.

Jenny is bored with life's prospects, so when she meets the debonaire David she is deeply attracted to him. She gets to go out with him because Jenny's father is a utilitarian oaf whose boorishness is only matched by his stupidity. Her mother is a wilted rose of a woman who is completely dominated by her husband. It seems a recipe for disaster from the start, although the director and cast take pains to paint David in a positive light for most of the film.

Jenny goes to a private girl's school but she's disenchanted with the work although she excels in English. Her ambition - to study at Oxford University - is challenged when David starts to invite her out to swish restaurants and new, exciting places. But why nobody saw through this serial philanderer is a mystery. Jenny's parents are caught napping but luckily she takes precautions before having sex.

Eventually, Jenny discovers David's real situation. Her new challenge is to return to plan A. To do this Jenny conscripts the help of her understanding English teacher.

I frequently wondered why this movie had been made at all. The predicament is so not-2010, so outdated and pre-oral-contraception. Luckily, it's saved by fine acting by Mulligan. Alfred Molina, who plays Jenny's dad, may be a marquee actor but he does not stand out here. All in all, it's a decent film with a genuine centre of gravity but the volumes of anguish associated with becoming a fallen woman is, frankly, antique. If Mulligan had been a worse actor, the film would be a dud.

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