‘An Education,’ a lesson we need

The world looks so inviting when we are 16, in high school and thinking about the wonders the world has to offer us.

For Jenny, played by Carey Mulligan, those wonders take a path of their own when she meets David, played charmingly by Peter Sarsgaard, an older man who offers her a world of jazz, art, and even Paris.

Her parents, played by Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour, are all about getting her prepared to leave her all-girls prep school and then on to Oxford for a proper education so she can have something to fall back on once she is out in the real world.

However, when they meet David, we see him work his charm into getting what he wants, which is to take their young daughter to a string concert and then to supper afterwards. Within minutes they blushingly accept, completely entrusting him.

Jenny is treated to suppers, trips into the country, musical events, afternoons at the racetrack, and eventually a trip to Paris on her seventeenth birthday. She is completely smitten by him, as are her parents, even though they know it’s not right.

David, aside from his interest in young girls, isn’t completely on the up and up. We see that he supplements his income by stealing antique paintings from older people who are selling their property. Most of this is done with much finesse, and he is gone before they know what has happened.

Olivia Williams (excellent here), who plays Jenny’s teacher, seems to be intrigued, even envious, of her newfound boyfriend. But once she sees it getting in the way of her possible future, she stands her ground; much to Jenny’s dismay.

As audience members we know none of this is right. Even though the film takes place in 1960 England, the thought of a thirty something man making a 16-year-old girl’s dreams, both sexual and non, is just wrong.

Before we know it, we too are sold by his charm as much as Jenny and her parents are; and by then, it’s too late.

An Education is presented quite harmlessly. It walks a very fine line with how Jenny and we are romanced by David.
Mulligan is amazing to watch as she goes from a silly schoolgirl to a well-dressed, well-bred socialite. In some takes the camera gets so close that you can actually see the young girl stuck behind the eyes of the socialite who is swept up in all the notoriety and money. Haunting.

Molina, usually in the bad guy role, plays Jenny’s dad with passion and heart. And, Emma Thompson who plays the schools headmistress shows us why she has won two Oscars and has been nominated for two as well, in only two scenes. She’s terrific!

Although An Education can only be seen currently at the Hillcrest Cinemas, do yourselves a favor and make the effort. The parking is free, and the film gives us a rare opportunity to see that seduction comes in many forms, and can affect us at any age.

9 out of 10 stars.

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‘An Education,’ a lesson we need