Directed by Danish film-maker Lone Scherfig, An Education is a coming of age drama is set in early 1960s Twickenham. Adapted by Nick Hornby from Lynn Barber’s memoir, the story revolves around intelligent teenage schoolgirl Jenny (Carey Mulligan) who has her head turned by the much older David (Peter Sarsgaard). As her burgeoning romance with David sweeps her along in a whirlwind of expensive presents, foreign trips and increasingly adult pursuits, Jenny is forced to decide between continuing her education and following her feelings.
The relationship between a 30-something man and a 16-year-old girl would, on the surface at least, seem to be a premise fraught with difficulty. It would have been easy for the story to have drifted into uncomfortable waters but, thanks to a well-handled script, sensitive direction and two excellent central performances, it plots a course through rose-tinted teen love story to intelligent, adult drama. Sarsgaard is solid as David, whose attraction to Jenny is obvious but whose intentions seem respectful; the fact that he has a good relationship with her parents (played ably by Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour) steers their affair well away from sordid territory. But it’s Mulligan who shines throughout, bringing a wide-eyed naïve endearing charm to her character, her intelligence and pragmatism making Jenny far more than just a silly schoolgirl. She is someone we can emotionally invest in, and so her journey becomes all the more compelling.
It is admittedly shame to see such strong British stars as Rosamund Pike, Dominic Murphy, Olivia Williams and Emma Thompson relegated to mere bit parts, but then this is Jenny and David’s story and it’s a story exceptionally well told. 4 stars
Unavailable for review, but there’s a commentary, deleted scenes and cast interviews
Stars Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina
Director Lone Scherfig
Distributor E1 Entertainment
Format DVD & Blu-ray
Released March 8
This review was originally published at www.moviescopemag.com