Growing up in life came a little later for me than most people. Most people seem to hit maturity right around their later teen years and early twenties. Honestly, I didn’t really grow up until I hit my mid twenties. But what would happen if one was forced to grow up sooner, say around their seventeenth birthday? Well then, you might be like Jenny Mellor from An Education who had to grow up a lot sooner than she probably expected to.
It’s 1961 in England. Jenny Mellor (played by Carey Mulligan) is 16 and entering her last year of school. She studies literature, plays the cello and is certain to ace her A-levels and be accepted to Oxford University. Her weakness is currently Latin but she promises to bring up that grade as soon as possible. Or else her father, Jack (played by Alfred Molina) says that she won’t make Oxford.
But her father and mother, Marjorie (played by Cara Seymour) mean the best for her despite their strict guidelines (the father’s strict guidelines anyway). One day, it is raining and a car rides along side of Jenny. It is an older man who goes by the name of David (played by Peter Sarsgaard). He asks her if she would like to get out of the rain thinking she wouldn’t probably accept since he is a stranger. Then he asks as a lover of music if he can just keep dry the cello while she walks alongside of him. She agrees.
Eventually, she decides to ride in the car with him to the house. She gets out and thanks him. As time passes and Jenny has to go to a concert, she finds a bouquet of flowers wishing her luck from David. Later, she would find him again in town and thank him for such a nice gesture. They appear smitten with each other and eventually go out, even with daddy’s permission. Apparently the dad’s angle is that David appears to know many famous people and he’s rich.
David introduces Jenny to his friends, Danny & Helen (played by Dominic Cooper & Roasmund Pike respectively). Danny is David’s business partner and Helen is Danny’s vapid girlfriend. Their business is fairly uncertain (it seems to involve real estate) except that David apparently can afford lots of nice things. The romance between David & Jenny continues but not without some resistance at the Catholic school that Jenny attends.
Miss Stubs (played by Olivia Williams) is Jenny’s favorite teacher but is worried that Jenny is in over her head and will neglect her education. In addition, the headmistress, Miss Walters (played by Emma Thompson) tells Jenny that if she continues to go out with this man, she will risk everything and not allowed back at the school. However, David just asked Jenny to go to Paris with him for her 17th birthday. Will Jenny accept and risk her virginity along with her education for the glitz, glamour and her new charming boyfriend, David?
This is a coming of age film, Jenny comes into adulthood very fast and possibly before she is ready. David is the suave & charming businessman who is very infatuated with Jenny but has many secrets of his own. Keep in mind, the timeframe of the 60’s….a what I assume to be late 20’s/early 30’s man dating a 16 or 17 year old was not unheard of, it was actually fairly commonplace especially for England. It is also appreciated that they don’t make it feel creepy or out of place and turn it into something like American Beauty where they really played the movie on the age factor.
With that said, this is a fantastic film. Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard do a wonderful job portraying their characters and playing the character’s strengths for everything they have got. I also want to mention that I found Alfred Molina’s portrayal of Jenny’s dad as refreshing. Yes, he is very strict but there is almost something likeable even when he says something despicable & chauvinistic.
The rest of the cast is strong even if I spent some of the time trying to figure out some of their characters. The characters of Jenny’s mother & Danny’s girlfriend were a little bit weaker than I would have liked but they were products of the era. Also, I really wanted David’s business (the real estate portion) to be more in focus for the movie. Unless you did some research after the movie, you had no idea really what he was doing or why he did it.
The video is shown in 2.35:1 Widescreen @ 1080p. The positive part to this video is that they really spend a good deal of time making you feel like you were in the 1960’s version of England. But with that said, this is one of the weaker Blu-Ray’s video presentations I’ve seen. Colors felt soft and nothing felt like it popped to me as I’ve become accustomed to in our shiny HD world. There was presence of some haze and grain as I watched the picture which didn’t really seem to benefit the format.
The audio is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD MA English. The complete opposite happened with the audio in this case. This is actually the best audio (that wasn’t an action/Pixar movie) I have experienced. The dialog booms (and clearly considering the English accents) and the surrounds are well used but not overdone. The score also plays an upstanding role and is used to get more mileage out of the important scenes. Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH & French.
- Automatic Trailers: Sony Blu-Ray, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus & Chloe
- Commentary with Director Lone Scherfig and Actors Carey Mulligan & Peter Sarsgaard: A fairly lively bunch, they spend most of the time either running over each other or watching their own movie intently. It is certainly a fun commentary, it just didn’t seem like they came all that prepared.
- The Making of An Education 8:59: They explain in this making-of featurette how the movie is a loss of innocence. Carey Mulligan here happens to be a blonde, I think I prefer the brunette (assumed wig) in the movie. The last bit is mostly love to the director and the fine job she did in the movie.
- Walking the Red Carpet 8:25: They are at the premiere of the movie at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. Carey Mulligan oddly has even a stranger haircut going with a very short brown look, this is one girl where short is all wrong. It starts out with a lot of rapid fire questions to the cast and the director on the movie while they are standing at the red carpet. Then they go inside and give a short introduction before the movie starts. I would have liked to see some more audience reaction shots personally.
- Deleted Scenes 16:12: Eleven deleted scenes are shown here with a couple of key scenes that could have been interesting if added in the production. There is first an extended scene of Jenny with Sally Hawkins’ character. The second is an alternate ending that involves David and shows where his life ended up after everything that transpired.
- Theatrical Trailer 2:24
- BD Live
An Educationis a fantastic movie that deals with a subject that many movies would probably turn into creepy and disturbing. It’s part love story and deals with the coming of age of a teenage girl who loses her innocence in the process. The cast is fantastic and they are solid in supporting the lead roles. The video is a little softer than I would like but they really drive it home with excellent audio and a good helping of extras. The recommendation is a little difficult as this will probably still bore those meat and potatoes guys. But if there is a lady in the room, they will appreciate the time and energy that is given to the art of storytelling. Enjoy.