The other weekend I watched 'An Education' which I was excited about viewing. I had read the screenplay a few weeks back and simply fell in love with it. You could tell it would draw upon the performances and would have no need for too much cinematic flair that seems to saturate a lot of productions these days. This would be honest, straight forward film.
And it was. The production design team and costume did a superb job of recreating early 60s London with a slightly washed out colour palette whenever Jenny was inhabiting her 'boring world' sans David, no doubt a good nod to the bleached out life she believes she is living at that point. The scene where Jenny is taken to a jazz bar is splendid, it definitely had me yearning for an experience like that, the place was so lush and extraordinary; it's no wonder you feel the wonder that Jenny experiences on being in such environments. Carey Mulligan gives a strong performance, particularly alongside Alfred Molina as her father Jack. She has one of those faces that can long older than her years and then transform to that of a naive girl, which is precisely the point to a lot of the narrative, so hats off to the casting director in that regard. Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike were adequate in the supporting roles, in fact I found Cooper not in the least bit annoying and rather credible.
I wasn't entirely convinced by the performance delivered Peter Sarsgaard; he was dodgy from the word go and I wasn't ever taken with David's charm that allows him to worm into Jenny's parents' good graces and seduce the poor girl. That may be down to my previous reading of the script and I got quite a powerful sense of David from that, while in the film he appeared rather bland, akin to a odd uncle, even if he was taking little Jenny out and about the town.
It was touching in places, especially when Jack apologises to his daughter but the best elements was Jenny's relationship with her English teacher (the superb line 'I'm telling you to go to Oxford... or you'll break my heart' just summed up the bizarre duality that exists in modern girls' lives when it comes to education and then life afterwards), and Jenny's outburst to the headteacher (played briefly and brilliantly by Emma Thompson): "It’s not enough to educate us any more, Mrs Walters. You’ve got to tell us why you’re doing it." Oh that definitely spoke to me! "This whole stupid country is bored." There's another one that rings close to home.
All in all, very enjoyable and poignant in parts, without any crazy avenues to traverse to understand the heart of the film. Plus it was a solid British cast. My only reservation is that its not as good as what I had hoped from reading the screenplay, which only affirms to one that what you read and consequently visualise in your head is more powerful that what gets translated on screen. Sorry, I am a lover of words at the end of day. But the production team did a good job.