I don’t usually write movie reviews, but never has a film been so right up my alley as this one.
“An Education” (screenplay by the immortal Nick Hornby) takes place in London in the early 60’s, just prior to the cultural revolution. Jenny (played brilliantly by Carey Mulligan) is a precocious, Oxford-bound high school senior who is bored to death with her cookie-cutter life in the suburbs, writing A+ English papers, taking Latin lessons and playing cello in the youth orchestra. When she is seduced by David (Peter Sarsgaard), an exciting, much older man who sweeps her into his bohemian underworld of concerts, art auctions, sex, gambling and weekend trips to Paris, she is forced to choose between the possibility of an Oxford-educated future and a thrilling, colorful life with a man old enough to be her father.
Even without the brilliant screenplay and performances, the soul music and stunning vintage costumes in this movie would be enough to seduce me. But what really resonates with me is the question that Jenny is ultimately posing to her parents and educators: namely, what’s the point of burying your nose in books until you’re 25 when you could be spending your youth living life, listening to beautiful music, eating delicious food, traveling, meeting interesting people and exploring what else the visceral world has to offer? In other words, what is the real value of an academic education, and what should we be willing to sacrifice to achieve one?
Jenny’s teachers and parents fail to answer that question for her, but the film ultimately answers it for us. I won’t spoil the movie by telling you how it ends; instead, I will implore you all to go see it, and then call me.