For my first movie critique, I thought I would assess the quality of a movie I watched just a few days ago, An Education. This British indie film was released in 2009 and received a significant amount of critical acclaim despite accusations of anti-Semitism (I guess director Lone Scherfig didn’t know that making a Jewish character a cradle-robbing conman is just not in vogue).
The film is set in a convincing 1960’s London (actually I don’t have much authority on that considering I’ve never been to London and I’m not, well, in my 50’s) where Jenny, a clever young woman, played to perfection by Carey Mulligan, is in her last year of primary school and dreams of going to Oxford when she falls head over heels for David (Peter Sarsgaard), a man twice her age. In her infatuation, Jenny drops out of school and abandons her dreams of Oxford to marry David, only to discover that he is already married (who didn’t see that coming, really?). Jenny has to pick up the pieces of her shattered life to get back on track and make it to Oxford.
Over all, I really enjoyed this movie. It is witty and sexy. My favorite part is when David makes Jenny actually have to say “I don’t want to lose my virginity to a fruit!” (Just to alleviate confusion, she means fruit in the literal sense). I don’t think such a combination of words has ever been uttered in the English language before. This movie is also appealing because of its feminist implications. It does more than just reaffirm the common female notion that men suck (come on, you know you do). An Education asserts a message of independence.
However, the great thing about this film is that it even transcends a feminist interpretation. Both the title and Jenny’s conflict expresses a very important question: what is the most important kind of education? Is it formal or life experience? The movie suggests that a person doesn’t have to choose between the two, and choosing actually is very limiting, as it was limiting to Jenny. She wasn’t happy just working hard at school, and of course dropping out of school doesn’t work out for her too much. It’s not until the end of the movie, when she’s in Oxford and meets a man (her age, thank God) who takes her to Paris that she finds true fulfillment.
Despite the movie’s great messages, it does have some flaws. I have two specific ones in mind. The first being that at the end of the movie, Carey Mulligan suddenly does a random voice over to explain the resolution of the film, a technique that annoys me to no end. If there is going to be a voice over in a movie, it better be in the beginning, or at least somewhere else. The second is not so nit-picky. When Jenny discovers that David is married and that she has nothing, she goes to her previous teacher and asks for help. The next scene, she is opening her acceptance letter from Oxford. Excuse me, but we are missing a key bit of information there. How exactly was Jenny able to get in to Oxford after she left school? I want to know what that teacher did. The only thing I can guess is that she slept with the dean or something, but considering this movie has a feminist message, I hope that’s not what happened. For me, that is an inexcusable hole of information.
Considering those are the only flaws I could see, I would conclude that for the most part this is indeed a good movie. I give it 7 out of 10.