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AN EDUCATION

Director: LONE SCHERFIG

U.K. • 2009 • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 35MM • 95 MIN


A SCHOOLGIRL FALLS FOR AN OLDER MAN WHO PROMISES TO WIDEN HER HORIZONS BEYOND THE STAID MIDDLE-CLASS NORTH LONDON OF 1961 IN THIS BEAUTIFULLY REALISED ADAPTATION OF JOURNALIST LYNN BARBER’S ACCLAIMED MEMOIR.

Jenny (newcomer Carey Mulligan) is a bright girl with the academic skills to make it to Oxford — much to the pride of her doting father (Alfred Molina, perfection) — when she falls in with twentysomething David (Peter Sarsgaard, impeccably accented), someone who’s utter catnip for an impressionable teenage girl. He takes her to classical concerts, fine restaurants and swanky nightclubs, introduces her to his rich friends, makes her feel all grown-up and the envy of her classmates. Somehow, he even manages to sweet-talk her parents, but soon we’re wondering . . . if he’s such a catch, why isn’t he romancing someone his own age?

Written for the screen by Nick Hornby (no less!), the film captures a London just waking up to the ’60s, its possibilities and its temptations — every nuance of which registers under the watchful direction of Lone Scherfig. There’s an element of cautionary tale involved, embodied by Emma Thompson’s imperious presence as a scornful headmistress, yet understanding too of the yearning for a bigger, better, glitzier life now rather than later, which sends the protagonist into such a spin. Sarsgaard does brilliantly in a difficult role as the slippery seducer, yet of all the array of talent gathered here, the one who shines brightest is captivating first-timer Mulligan. Carey Mulligan, who’s already being talked of as this generation’s Audrey Hepburn. See the film and you’ll understand exactly why. — Trevor Johnston.

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