An Education (12a)
Nick Hornby’s masterly screenplay crafts a wonderful story from Lynn Barber’s best-selling memoir. Carey Mulligan rightly won a BAFTA for Best Actress for her portrayal of Jenny Miller, a 16-year-old schoolgirl whose ambition is to go to Oxford to read English as a route out of suburbia into a wider world.
It’s 1962 and the Danish director Lone Scherfig seems perfectly at home; every period detail is spot on. One day, waiting in the rain with her cello for a bus, Jenny is picked up by David (Peter Sarsgaard), a smooth, charming man in his thirties. And so begins her education as she is completely drawn into his sophisticated world. Her conventional, lower middle-class parents, naïve and trusting, are completely charmed by David. Jenny is a willing accomplice in her seduction.
Lone Scherfig, niece of celebrated writer Hans Scherfig, has worked in Danish television extensively as a writer and director. Her work is characterised by her talent for getting under the skin of her characters, often ordinary people. Her Danish films have won several prestigious European awards. Her international breakthrough film was the dogme95 comedy, Italian for Beginners (2000). In 1995, a review of 100 years of filmmaking, resulted in Dogme, a manifesto proposed by Lars van Trier and Thomas Vinterberg in which they rejected the way the French nouvelle vague had developed (“The goal was correct, but the means were not!”). The aim of Dogme was to ‘purify’ filmmaking by concentrating on the story and the performances and by rejecting special effects and postproduction gimmicks. It laid out ten rules – “The Vow of Chastity” – to be followed. The critical success of two films, Festen and Mifunes sidste sang, were influential in making the movement international. Its influence can be seen on An Education.
Cast: Alfred Molina, Carey Mulligan, Dominic Cooper, Emma Thompson, Olivia Williams, Peter Sarsgaard, Rosamund Pike
Lone Scherfig | UK | 2009 | 100 minutes | 12a
Weighted vote 93%