I am pretty sure that Sunday afternoon’s screening of An Education was the first time I’ve ever had to stand in line at the Egyptian for a regular run movie about straight people. Amazing. But there I was in that line because I’ve basically been obsessed with seeing this movie ever since I first saw the trailer. It was worth the wait.
Carey Mulligan is the stand out discovery of the film, which should be no surprise at all to anyone who remembers her as Sally Sparrow in the Doctor Who episode “Blink”. (I say this with no sarcasm at all. She was one of the very rare one-off characters I wished desperately could stay.) Her Jenny is the 16 we all rather wish we had been, pretty & clever, seeing through some things entirely and others not at all.
She meets Peter Sarsgaard’s David, who charms us as thoroughly as he charms her. He charms her parents even more, as really what Jenny wants isn’t David but the world he’s showing her: Paris & restaurants & dancing & excitement & beautiful friends (Rosamund Pike & Dominic Cooper). Marvelous, with a perfect tone throughout.
According to the IMDb page, Orlando Bloom dropped out a week before filming and was replaced by Dominic Cooper. Bless, sayeth I, because Dom did more with that role than Orlando could ever dream of. Olivia Williams, long a favorite of mine, is a gem as Jenny’s English teacher, and Emma Thompson is a force of nature as the headmistress. Excellent all round.
Roger Ebert posted a link to a piece in the Guardian by Lynn Barber, the author of the memoir upon which the film is based. Best to be read after seeing the film, however.