In the early 1960's, sixteen-year-old Jenny Mellor (Carey Mulligan) lives with her parents in the London suburb of Twickenham. On her father Jack's (Alfred Molina's) wishes, everything that Jenny does is in the sole pursuit of being accepted into Oxford, as he wants her to have a better life than him. Jenny is bright, pretty, hard working, but also naturally gifted. The only problems her father may perceive in her life is her issue with learning Latin, and her dating a boy named Graham (Matthew Beard), who is nice, but socially awkward. Jenny's life changes after she meets David Goldman (Peter Sarsgaard), a man over twice her age. David goes out of his way to show Jenny and her family that his interest in her is not improper and that he wants solely to expose her to cultural activities which she enjoys. Jenny quickly gets accustomed to the life to which David and his constant companions, Danny (Dominic Cooper) and Helen (Rosamund Pike), have shown her, and Jenny and David's ...Written by
In the beginning of this movie, Jenny's fringe is neatly parted. As she becomes more and more involved with David, her fringe starts to descend until it is completely down. This shows she is now a part of his world. Then, as she starts to move away from him, her hair becomes parted again. See more »
When the traps open at Walthamstow Dog track, there is an advert for the Racing Post. This paper didn't exist until 20 years later. See more »
Before I even get to the review, I want to let you know you can currently find this DVD for $2 on the bargain table at your local Blockbuster (if you live in the USA or Canada). Well worth the price.
Now let's get to the movie. If you're like me & somewhat unexcited by the May- December romance story (Lolita, Venus, Pippa Lee, Last Tango, every Woody Allen flick ever made), you might be asking yourself why you're even bothering. The story here is nothing new, and the description on the back of the DVD sums up the plot in 2 sentences: something about a young schoolgirl torn between her conservative life vs. the glamour life of jazz clubs, older men and sex. But despite this age-old premise, it's the presentation that makes it thoroughly engaging and satisfying.
For one thing, it's set in Britain in the early 1960s. The attitudes, costumes and speech instantly take us back to a time when perhaps the plot wasn't so predictable. Much like watching Three's Company which is so undeniably 70s, we are transported back to a time when the now-trite plot wasn't so trite. So even though part of you may sit there shaking your head thinking "I know where this is going", the overall effect is to experience the film not only through the eyes of a naïve 16-year-old but also through the eyes of a somewhat naïve society. Dark-skinned people are called negroes. The term "Jew" is batted around like an insult. Characters in general are hopelessly clueless compared to today's standards. But the film is presented in a way that we all (should) take it in stride.
For that, I'd say this is probably the most interesting of the May-December romance films I've seen. Also I like the fact that it follows the girl's (younger) point of view whereas all the above films take the man's (older) viewpoint which, especially in the case of Woody Allen & Bertolucci, can come across as the director's attempt to justify his own taste in women. This film, rather, stays away from the subjective morality argument and instead focuses on the consequences. So although the story is far from original, I have to admit that the overall tone is something I haven't seen before.
...with the exception of one amazing film, City of Lost Children (by the director of Amélie). Now there's a film that approaches the subject in a thoroughly unconventional and charming way. If you haven't seen that one, go find a copy right away.
PS Alfred Molina!! You'll love Alfie in An Education. If you're not already a fan of his, check out Chocolat, The Hoax, and you MUST see his skit in Coffee & Cigarettes.
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