A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London (Mulligan) and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age (Sarsgaard).
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Travelling around the festival circuit from the Sundance Film Festival to the Olso International Film Festival this year, An Education (dir. Lone Scherfig) was successful in winning the Sundance Audience and Cinematography Award, as well as being nominated for Sundanceís Grand Jury Prize. It may not beat Slumdog Millionaire (dir. Danny Boyle) for best British drama of 2009, itís still a great film worth seeing.
Written by famed novelist Nick Hornby, who wrote the original novels of previously adapted films, including Fever Pitch (dir. Bobby and Peter Farrelly), About A Boy (dir. Chris and Paul Weitz) and High Fidelity (dir. Stephen Frears), this is his first role as a screenwriter and has structured a brilliant story.
Based on the memoirs by Lynn Barber from the 1960s in Britain, the film is about senior schoolgirl Jenny (Carey Mulligan), who is trying to get high grades so she can go to Oxford University as ordered by her bossy-yet-lovable farther Jack (Alfred Molina) and is finding the process boring and dull.
On a rainy day after school, handsome David (Peter Sarsgaard) offers her a ride home and after another encounter, they start doing fun and interesting activities with Davidís business partner Danny (Dominic Cooper) and Dannyís girlfriend Helen (Rosamund Pike). With her new friends and encountering fun activities, the bored Jenny enjoys her new lifestyle, but is slowly losing her possibilities of getting a worthwhile education.
For a first attempt at writing a feature length screenplay, Nick Hornby has done everything really well, from characters to dialogue to the structure of the entire story from beginning to end.
The screenplay is very character driven and this is a familiar trait of his writing style from his books, showing how Jennyís actions affect all the other characters around her. For example, thereís a scene where she talks down to Miss Stubbs (Olivia Williams) after she starts to loose her focus of going to Oxford University and thereís a scene later in the film where she confronts her teacher again and we get an insight of how her actions has affected their past and current relationship.
Another thing I want to note is that most of the actions are lead by dialogue and he has made the language simple and the phrases correct for 1960s Britain, which audiences will have no problem understanding. This is used for numerous expressions of emotion and these is hardly used through physical actions, giving more drama and humour to some numerous scenes that helps to drive the film through the different ways Jenny communicates with the supporting characters around her.
By having the screenplay written in this fashion, it gives all of the actors and actresses a fantastic opportunity to show off their skills with the film being character and dialogue driven. All of the actors and actresses all do a grand performance and are either one of their best or the best performances they have ever done.
Carey Mulligan, who plays Jenny, portrays the lead character and although she has previously starred in films before, this is her first leading role. Her acting was absolutely superb and her skills are much more polished compared with the other young actresses like Emma Watson and Kristen Stewart. After the release of the film in the UK and itís limited release in America, Mulligan was already getting noticed for a possibility of getting nominations at the 2010 award season and I honestly canít wait to see her in next yearís Never Let Me Go (dir. Mark Romanek) and Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps (dir. Oliver Stone).
An Education is a beautifully crafted and fantastically written film that, although nothing brand new, does offer audiences an intriguing insight of a young and confused girl who is feeling the consequences of her choices. One of the best British films of 2009 and one that could be a strong contender for the 2010 award season.