Feature

An Education

Carey Mulligan gives a breakthrough performance in this coming-of-age story about a 16-year-old who begins a dalliance with an older man, played by Peter Sarsgaard.

Directed by Lone Scherfig
(PG-13)

***

An English teenager is smitten with an older man.

An Education is “my favorite movie so far this year,” said Leah Rozen in People. In this “beautifully crafted coming-of-age drama,” Carey Mulligan gives a breakthrough performance as Jenny, a 16-year-old bristling with anticipation for adulthood in early-1960s Britain. Preferring life experience to musty textbooks, she begins a dalliance with David, an older man played with remarkable nuance by Peter Sarsgaard. As he introduces her to the world, we watch the girl become a woman. Despite a few “original touches,” Jenny’s journey is a pretty conventional one, said David Edelstein in New York. Director Lone Scherfig doesn’t let us share Jenny’s sense of discovery as she learns about art or music—or when David reveals his true colors. But I hardly think Scherfig’s point was to surprise, said Joe Morgenstern in The Wall Street Journal. We are skeptical of the relationship from the start and, as Jenny makes one youthful mistake after another, we tensely watch as her fate plays out. We nevertheless get caught up in Jenny’s zest for life. Thanks to Nick Hornby’s brilliant script, which he adapted from Lynn Barber’s memoir, the film becomes a “dramatic education on the nature of being young.”

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