Flunking Out: Lone Scherfig's "An Education"

By robbiefreeling | REVERSEBLOG: the reverse shot blog October 9, 2009 at 3:44AM

There is little room for palpable emotions to flourish under the gloomy, brushed steel skies and oppressively muted palette of An Education. This highly stylized tale of a naïf taken in by the lies of an older man in prefeminist, pre-Beatles England is decked out like an overlong episode of Mad Men and places stunning costumes and impeccable art direction above sympathetic characters and relatable situations. Based on an autobiographical article in a literary magazine by British journalist and interviewer Lynn Barber, the film, adapted to the screen by Nick Hornby and directed by Lone Scherfig (Italian for Beginners), was in the can before the full memoir was even published, in June of this year. The result is a story spread as thin as marmalade over melba toast in the penny-pinching Twickenham household where Jenny (Carey Mulligan), our 16-year-old heroine, is being raised by her uptight parents (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour). Jenny is eager to escape her middle class, provincial life and get to Oxford where, she says, “I can read what I want, wear black, and listen to Jacques Brel.” Mulligan’s playful facial expressions and doughy dimples go a long way towards making such cringe-worthy dialogue bearable, but the film’s clichéd portrait of self-centered teenagehood is fairly hard to stomach overall. Click here to read the rest of Sarah Silver's review of An Education.
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There is little room for palpable emotions to flourish under the gloomy, brushed steel skies and oppressively muted palette of An Education. This highly stylized tale of a naïf taken in by the lies of an older man in prefeminist, pre-Beatles England is decked out like an overlong episode of Mad Men and places stunning costumes and impeccable art direction above sympathetic characters and relatable situations. Based on an autobiographical article in a literary magazine by British journalist and interviewer Lynn Barber, the film, adapted to the screen by Nick Hornby and directed by Lone Scherfig (Italian for Beginners), was in the can before the full memoir was even published, in June of this year. The result is a story spread as thin as marmalade over melba toast in the penny-pinching Twickenham household where Jenny (Carey Mulligan), our 16-year-old heroine, is being raised by her uptight parents (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour). Jenny is eager to escape her middle class, provincial life and get to Oxford where, she says, “I can read what I want, wear black, and listen to Jacques Brel.” Mulligan’s playful facial expressions and doughy dimples go a long way towards making such cringe-worthy dialogue bearable, but the film’s clichéd portrait of self-centered teenagehood is fairly hard to stomach overall. Click here to read the rest of Sarah Silver's review of An Education.