Movie Review: An Education
First things first:
Help yourself to some tidbits on what the movie’s about. Spoilers are abound, though.
The real reason I piqued an interest in this movie is due to my favorite English actress Carrey Mulligan starring in this film. Other reason was that I watched Never Let Me Go (link is to book review, I never wrote a film review which I just realized now >.<) before this film and I loved her acting there which also makes me a jerk for not watching this in 2009. I had to download this film the moment I saw that she was starring in it and how she garnered nominations for her role!
In any case, on with the review, shall we?
What is this movie about? The blurb on the poster tells us it’s something about educating one’s self in a manner in which is not quite orthodox to whom society has grown accustomed to upon hearing of the term “educate”. Oh no. It’s quite deeper than that. It’s deep yet the movie title was able to somehow tell its audience that there’s more than meets the eyes in this movie and that it’s not just about some teenage drama going through life and making tough decisions (well, it is a bit like that but that’s just the tip of the iceberg).
Skip the plot if you just want the review at the bottom
This movie is about how a girl named Jenny who is somehow forced to live life in a straight line. She’s no doubt too tired of how monotonous it is. She’s the only child of a middle class family, she’s the one who gets the highest marks in school, and is doing her best to make it in Oxford to study to one day do whatever she wants in life.
She then chances upon a stranger (quite the opposite, really) one rainy afternoon. This stranger introduces himself as David. David, as fate would have it, would be the one person in her life that would show her a different kind of life; a life that is not uniform to what everyone else conforms to. David’s rich, charming, and witty and this all is just too much for a 16 year old girl to handle. David is thus able to sweep Jenny off her feet as easy as counting 1 to 3.
Jenny’s parents are quite strict with regards to her studying after school so she can get to Oxford. David, however, is able to persuade them to make sure he gets the weekends (and then some) with Jenny. David even lies to them so he can have her go to certain places Jenny would love to but he knows her parents would be quite uptight about (as always, the father is the one with the tightest belt here but David can loosen any belt with ease).
Jenny meets with David’s friends and they all become a clique. They go to orchestras, bars, night clubs, hound betting, and visit places like Paris in which Jenny has been dreaming to go to as displayed by her penchant for French literature, music, and its arts. Jenny also discovers that what David does for a living is a bit sordid.
Time passes. Jenny lets David into her heart. David decides to go all the way with her when he proposed to Jenny. David seems to be in his late 30’s and he’s asking a 16-year old girl for marriage. What defense can a bored-to-death teenager do to say no to the very man that has showed her how to live a “real” life?\
At this point, her teachers and even the head of the school warns her of having to do with more of her boyfriend and less of her studies. Jenny was simply too upset that she went berserk to both the head and her mentor. She simply didn’t want the life they wanted for her.
Soon after, Jenny decides to quit the school she goes and her parents, as they’ve become quite fond of David, just shrugs it off. Her father, though quite strict with Jenny, even tells her that it was the wisest choice as she wouldn’t have to worry about money and how she’ll have the best life.
Really heavy spoilers on this part. Highlight the text to see although I don’t recommend it if you haven’t watched the film yet. Seriously, it’ll ruin the whole experience. I warned you.
Heavy spoiler starts here:
Things go awry when Jenny discovers that David is actually married and only lives near where she lives which explains why they keep bumping into each other. Jenny, humbly asked David to not let Jenny tell this to herself and that he should explain it all to her parents emphasizing that he “owes them that much”. David, as the seedy and cowardly man that he truly is, inevitably drives off, never to be seen again.
Now imagine being in her shoes. She just turned 17, she lost her virginity to an unfaithful man, she quit school, and is now aimless. Realize that at this point, your life is practically in ruins. Jenny begins to think that her life is over and that everything she has ever done up to this point (endless essays, reviews, exams) has been rendered to be of no value. Who could ever thought that the one man that showed you the world would be also the one to destroy it right before your very eyes?
Jenny, being a strong-willed girl by nature, decides to confront this on her own, much like a full grown woman. She sought to go back to school only to be rejected due to the head telling her it would be best for the school not to have her at all. At this point, she knew Oxford was the only thing that would salvage her from this mess of a life and she can only turn to one person for help. It would be her mentor, the woman that Jenny mocked as to having a “dead” life.
Jenny goes to her mentor’s abode and find out how seemingly successful her mentor was despite her rather monotonous attitude and appearance at school as she commented on how “lovely” her place is. Jenny commented on how there is no short cut to a desirable life. Jenny then humbly asks her mentor to help her get back on track; to get to Oxford.
Afterwards, we see that Jenny was accepted at Oxford university and how she ended up dating a lot of boys. She then tells the audience by the end of the movie, that one guy asked her to go to Paris and how she felt so excited to go there as if she’s never been.
Heavy spoiler ends here.
The movie made use of your typical coming-of-age film with a very heavy twist. It’s quite unexpected that it just catches you unguarded. The film also hints of how the main character is somewhat anachronistic in this film in a sense that she displays a strong will and an even stronger heart at a time when women weren’t given the proper opportunities when it came to becoming a professional.
Carrey Mulligan really did deserve the recognition she got from this film. She was just so brilliant. Her portrayal of the character was simply worth noting. The rest of the cast were great but Carrey outshone them.
This movie tells us that the “education” she learned here is the type of which you need to learn outside the pages of a book and the confines of a classroom. The “education” she managed to learn is her self-discovery; of what she is, what she is capable of, and most importantly, what she wants to do with her life.
The film is of a story not unlike the ones we’ve heard or seen before and yet upon watching it, it delivers a sort of impact in our lives that sets it apart from the usual Hollywood, money-grossing films we often see in theatres nowadays.
OVERALL RATING: 10/10