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An Education

Sometimes an education isn’t by the book. 

Year: 2009 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Lone Scherfig 
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Olivia Williams, Emma Thompson  
An image from An Education

Jenny (Mulligan) is attractive, 16 and talented. She has her life planned out and is set to secure a place at Oxford, until she meets David (Sarsgaard). David is suave, 30-something and handsome. As he introduces Jenny to his world of concerts, cocktails and sophistication, her plans for the future begin to change and falter. David seems perfect; his charm not only entices Jenny but also seduces her parents into allowing David to whisk their daughter off to Paris. But is David all that he seems? His glamorous friends, the fashion and European lifestyle pose Jenny with a dilemma where she must ask herself what she truly wants: should she continue with her Oxford application or succumb to the allure of David’s cosmopolitan world?

Scherfig’s film superbly highlights the gap between childhood and adulthood. We see Jenny sway between the two worlds, something that the 1961 setting serves to enhance. Jenny is the conservative product of her parents, representing a bygone youth where teenagehood didn’t exist. David provides us with the opposite: the swinging '60s. The mise-en-scene, costumes and decor signify the differences, brilliantly shifting from the browns of the classroom to the twinkling, smoky setting of the jazz club.

Nick Hornby’s script is adapted from Lynn Barber’s memoirs, creating a film both charmingly comic and serious in plot. The subtle, understated dialogue highlights issues of sexual politics and class whilst enabling the film to retain its light humour. It is a film full of charm, wit, fashion, and most importantly education, complimented by Carey Mulligan’s self-assured, sharp, BAFTA-winning performance.

Kate Moore

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Screenings of this film:

2009/2010 Summer Term (35mm)
2009/2010 Summer Term (35mm)