The critics loved this movie. It’s about Jenny (Carey Mulligan), a smart, pretty girl in 1960s London who is working hard in school to please her father and get into Oxford and whose plans get derailed when she is seduced by an older Jewish con man, David (Peter Sarsgaard). Nowadays, we call men like him “players.” He’s got game and not only has Jenny wrapped around his little finger but her parents, as well.
How can I critique this without giving away the story? It’s not The Talented Mr. Ripley, which I thought was genius and difficult to watch. David is icky and flawed but I felt little sympathy or distaste even for him or Jenny for that matter. I think it’s because I didn’t feel there was a lot at stake. Jenny herself states that even with a degree from Oxford she’d still end up in a dead-end teaching job so why try? When she does make a poor choice, she suffers no real consequences. Her dad doesn’t hang himself or disown her. Her mother doesn’t hit the bottle. Jenny isn’t ostracized. The worst that happens is she doesn’t get to return to the same school that was stifling her but gets tutored by the only teacher she liked. It’s all too perfect, really, and I find perfection to be extremely irritating. Carey Mulligan, however, is cute and stunning at the same time. The kind of actress my friend Susanne says is loved by the camera. On an unrelated side note, in real life Peter Sarsgaard is married to Maggie Gyllenhall, another actress the camera loves. She is the sister of Jake Gyllenhall, an actor I’d love and who is single now after being dumped by Reese Witherspoon, an actress with a funny mouth. (Name the place, Jake; I’ll be there.)
Should you rent An Education? Yes. It’s not the best but better than most and the makeup is awesome.