This Week at the Movies: An Education

When a movie has the ability to mix genres, it often has much more power to relate to people and draw viewers into the plot. An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig and written for the screen by Nick Hornby, is a brilliant mix of comedy and drama that makes for a superb film. With its tongue-and-cheek dialogue and straight up hilarious moments, one can forget that it also has a very satisfying plot, which carries a powerful message that resonates with people of all ages. It’s smart, sophisticated and features some exquisite performances as well. Everyone has something to learn and something to love from An Education.

The story takes place in the early 1960’s in the suburbs of London. Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is a bright young girl preparing for her entrance exams for Oxford University. She is under a tremendous amount of pressure from her parents and teachers, but she doesn’t really understand the purpose of it all. Nothing is very fun anymore. Enter David (Peter Saarsgard), an older man with a curious air about him. He entrances Jenny with his wondrous lifestyle and friends. She is soon smitten, willing to give up everything to spend the rest of her life with him and leading his sort of lifestyle. She learns, however, that things aren’t always what they seem and there is a great value to an education, both in and out of the classroom. The dialogue is a wonderful mix of witty banter and powerful dramatic lines. The characters are complex yet easily relatable and feel like they fit right in our own families. They are truly what bring the story to life and make the movie a heartwarming tale. The acting is simply spot-on and only elevates the importance and realistic feel of the characters. Nothing could have made the content of the movie better.

Special attention should be paid to the music in the movie. The mix of French ballads, classical music and the emerging rock genre are blended seamlessly into each scene. They play a role in the development of Jenny and the story of her coming of age. Music is a major technical aspect of the movie that should not go unnoticed. Camera shots are framed well and the color does a nice job of setting the tone and has its moments of sheer beauty, but it’s nothing revolutionary. It’s a very well put together film and one can always appreciate something that is well made.

As college students, we often wonder why it is we spend so much time working and nearly killing ourselves for an education. The beauty of An Education is that it relieves some of that tension. For those just beginning their college career or leaving it, the movie puts it all in perspective. Sometimes it seems it would be so much easier to find a short cut and live life on the fast track. It works for some people, but there is a lot of value in what we’re working for. Even for those who have already gone through their own education, the movie provides a wonderful chance to look back and appreciate your own education. If you’re looking for a good time at the movies and want to feel like you saw something of value, An Education is the perfect film. You won’t be disappointed.