An Education review

A student has locked herself in her room, has had seven hours of sleep within the past four days and is emerged in her books; it is mid-term week. She has spent countless hours dedicated to transporting all of the information collected since the beginning of the school-year into her brain, yet she finds herself pondering the point of it all. What is the point of this education; surely, not to deprive one of life’s adventures. This idea is the center of one of 2010’s nominated films for best picture, An Education.

Directed by Lone Scherfig, An Education takes one back to 1960’s London, into the life of Jenny Mellor (Carey Mulligan), a sixteen-year-old girl who attends boarding school. Day by day, Mellor finds herself continuously studying and working hard to please her father (Alfred Molina), by climbing the golden ladder towards Oxford University.

Within the first ten minutes of the film one can see that Mellor is unsatisfied with her father’s goal of Oxford. Mulligan, who is up for an Oscar for best actress, does an excellent job portraying a girl who is quite frankly bored and has a feverish desire to venture out and see the real world, verses reading the same types of books, completing the same multi-hour-demanding assignments and dressing in school uniform. Hence, when a handsome, more-mature man (Peter Sarsgaard) offers to drive Mellor home, how could she resist?

Screenplay’s (Nick Hornby) creation of the character David (Sarsgaard) is ingenious. He is everything a bored schoolgirl, like Mellor, could want: charming, wealthy and full of adventure. As she continues to spend time with him, school no longer remains a top priority. There are too many other things to do, such as go to parties with aristocrats, watch concerts with famous musicians and, of course, there is always Paris. Mellor’s dream city is now in the palm of her hand instead of on the covers of records and books. Though, the scene that shows Mellor’s first experience in Paris does not capture the audience as one might have hoped. For instance, the couple’s travel lasts only five to ten minutes of the film, when it should have been longer considering the movie’s purpose, which was the option of an education or the “fabulous life.” Furthermore, after watching Mellor obsess over Parié one would expect that when she finally arrived in her dream city, Hornby would have included more detail on her experiences there. 

For the time being, Mellor’s entire life revolves around the fascinating man, but as the film continues to roll, Mellor discovers that there are some serious problems with this man and that he may not be as extraordinary as she once thought. She begins to question whether this boring “education,” is more important or worth it, than her new life of joie de vivre.

An important scene in the film is when Mellor has her last confrontation with headmistress of the school (Emma Thompson). The conversation is blunt, but powerful. Thompson’s acting steals the show as she bluntly explains to Mellor the purpose of this so called “education.” The conversation leaves one pondering as it digs deep into the idea that, maybe, the boring stuff is what is the most important in the end.

An Education is up against some tremendous films for best picture, but it is deserving of the Oscar, because the film not only contains first-rate acting, but a storyline that people face in their everyday lives. An Education truly depicts the life of not only a bored student, but also of any person who ponders the question “What’s the point?” People everywhere can relate to this film, because of its powerful message that centers on everyday-life. So, if An Education steals the Oscar on March 7, the award will be well deserved.   

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