So, sometimes I'm a little late to the party, and in the case of An Education I'm really, really late. But as I tell my students, better late than never. I've been making use of the film collection (small as it is) at the community college where I work and today I checked out Lone Scherfig's brilliant film. You really would have thought I'd have made more of an effort back when it was released, especially after it was nominated for three Academy Awards in 2009 (Best Picture, Actress, and Adapted Screenplay). But, alas, sometimes I miss out and come around much later than everyone else.
Initially it didn't seem like my sort of film, and I'm not sure I would have appreciated it as much when it was first released. However, seeing it now, I found it mesmerizing and highly relatable. Carey Mulligan, as Jenny, the heroine, simply shines and the rest of the cast is phenomenal, seriously the best Britain has to offer. Peter Sarsgaard (not British, but we'll forgive him), Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams, Emma Thompson, Dominic Cooper, Sally Hawkins and more all wrap you into the story of a young girl caught between her planned future of attending Oxford and the dashing older man that enters into her life.
I won't go into details of the plot because I'm sure you all have seen it, but what really caught me were the amazing production values. The music and score are wonderful and enhance the '60s feel of the film. The cinematography is stunning, there's really no other way to describe it, just clear and beautiful. The script, by Nick Hornby is great, better than anything else I've seen of his. The production design and art direction are so perfect and precise, it's just amazing. So many brilliant little details. But can I just say something about the costumes?
Oh my goodness! Why was this not nominated for best costume design? Oh yeah, because it's too "contemporary" and isn't considered a "costume" film. It's a real shame that people don't understand what good costume design looks like because this is just breathtaking and highly underrated. *sigh* I'll be purchasing my own copy just to watch the costumes again.
One other thing, the Anglophile in me loved all the locations, particularly the scenes set in Oxford. Just gorgeous.
Finally, I loved the overall message about education. Though the film is set in the 1960's it's just as important now and really resonated with me. One quote by Jenny really stood out in regards to the work I'm doing at school.
"It's not enough to educate us anymore...you've got to tell us why you're doing it."
Just brilliant, and spot on with the discussions I'm having in my grad classes. I love when a movie makes those real world connections and you come out not only entertained but more aware of your place in the world. If you're like me, and you haven't seen this movie yet, go watch it. You won't regret it.