I was at dinner recently (it was around supper time if I recall) and relatives were discussing some details concerning my father’s courting of my mother. At various times during courtship, another one of my mother’s suitors was discouraged by my father’s gestures including his propensity to give her flowers. Despite winning this suitors’ quarrel, my father was still hard pressed to get my mother to make herself available for a Saturday night date. Eventually, it all worked itself out. I always thought the oddest part of my parents’ courtship was their age difference. I mean, it’s not like Creepy Town, Population: My Parents’ Age Difference, but for most of my younger days, I assumed people only got married to people who were in their grade.
Speaking of age differences, in An Education Peter Sarsgaard plays a dashing man who sweeps the young Carey Mulligan off her feet. No contest, he gets all the Saturdays. All the Saturdays to you sir!
An Education tells the tale of 16 (eventually 17)-year-old Jenny (Mulligan) and her romance with the charming, older David (Sarsgaard). Jenny has her whole life ahead of her! She is bright (except for Latin. Booo Latin!) and wants to go to “read” English at “Oxford.” But she’s a girl and this is 1962, so there are still problems. Sometimes, she plays French records. Her father, Doctor Octopus, cares not for French records. He cares for cello lessons and grades and doing well in school and making sure his scholarly/ academic investments pay off for Jenny.
But here comes David with his culture and his cars and his caring and his suave and his flip-turning Jenny’s life upside-down! He impresses her parents! He has mystery in both his story and his occupation! He opens Jenny to a new world of travel and motels and friends and art and playing off the racist tendencies of apartment dwellers! But what does this mean for Jenny’s life and her big plans!?
I am going to stop plot-a-speakin’ there because it was a great movie and I don’t want to ruin it for people. As an American, I think all Americans should see this movie twice.
That being said, in doing research, I’ve found there is a bit of uneasiness about Jenny/David’s relationship. My boy, A.O. Scott (You crazy for this one, A.O!) mentions “. . . in hindsight An Education might make you a little queasy, [but] it is hard to resist, like David himself.” Maybe, in my own case, I judged the relationship based on notions of what is acceptable in society for the year 2009. However, it makes more sense to look at things in 1962. Considering the time, it’s easier to see that the picture David presents of himself is enticing not only to Jenny but also her parents in a way that removes creepiness from the relationship.
Again, back to the movie, Carey Mulligan is really good! Maybe not Bliss Cavendar good, but still really good! Good job, Carey Mulligan!
Peter Sarsgaard is also great but I am biased. Little bit of a Sarsgaardian here! He’s swell in Shattered Glass and he’s swell in Garden State and he’s swell here!
In doing research (again, more research!), I also read some complaints about the ending and its smoothness and whatnot. I am not sure what to make of the ending. Initially, I saw it and interpreted it against what was presented. Now, I am leaning toward a strict interpretation of the ending but even that is not entirely satisfying. It is not because it is “tidy” by itself, but that tidiness is perplexing given the rest of the film. However, it is not enough to undermine the film’s other parts. While pieces of An Education don’t fit exactly, the strong performances succeed in building a good movie.