An EducationLet me get to the point: GO SEE THIS FILM NOW! I will be SHOCKED and MORTIFIED if An Education does not get recognized and garner a lot of awards. This film is a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl (played with youthful elegance by newcomer Carey Mulligan) in 1960s suburban London. An Oxford-bound perfect student, her life (and her parents’ lives) completely center around her education. One day, she meets a much older suitor (Peter Sarsgaard), who enters her schoolgirl life and completely charms her down a path of luxury, glamour, and sex. However, before long, we notice that all is not perfect with Sarsgaard as we slowly begin to discover his secrets.

An Education excels on many levels. The performances from everyone involved are a mark of high achievement. I have seen Peter Sarsgaard in many films and he never fails to impress. Here, however, he takes his craft to a higher notch and you cannot help but be completely taken by his character. As for Carey Mulligan, the schoolgirl, if this first performance is a sign of things to come from her, she has a very bright career ahead of her. The character calls for a smart, educated teenage schoolgirl who, although perceptive, is also naive about the world. Mulligan nails the character perfectly and the energy and quality of her performance reminded me of the amazing debut Anna Paquin gave in The Piano. The other performance worthy of mention is the always amazing Alfred Molina, who plays the girl’s overly protective father. Molina belongs to a class of British actors who continually redefine excellence in acting (the others being Jim Broadbent, Ian McKellan, and Bill Nighy). Although strict and overprotective of his daughter and her educational future, Molina also displays a weakness in what he thinks is best for his daughter as well as a tenderness for her welfare. I don’t mean to shortchange the rest of the cast because everyone here is stupendous, but for the sake of brevity, I’m focusing on the main roles in the film.

As you can see in the title of this post, An Education is written by Nick Hornby, who is one of the most prolific British writers and essayists working today (he also wrote the books About a Boy, High Fidelity, and Fever Pitch). This film was from an original screenplay by Nick Hornby, which is the first time he has written something not based on any of his books. This is one of the best coming-of-age films I have seen and it easily ranks up there with other coming-of-age classics like Dead Poets Society and Stand By Me. My empathy with the character’s journey also stems from my own childhood where education and getting into a good university were important in my family.

The production values in An Education are equally noteworthy. The film beautifully and perfectly conveys 1960s London with warm colors and dark contrasts. This is a colorful film and it immediately envelopes you into the time period. I was taken as much by the cinematography, costumes, and production design as I was by the narrative.

As you can tell, I was quite impressed with An Education and it easily ranks in my Top 10 of the year’s best films. I don’t know how much publicity this film will receive, but that will depend on whether or not it manages to earn any nominations and/or awards during awards season. The film has already attracted positive notice from the critics and deservedly so. If you plan on seeing a movie this weekend, I cannot recommend An Education highly enough. Do yourselves a favor and see it.

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