An Education (2009)
Any review must start, first and foremost, with talk of Carey Mulligan, who stars as Jenny, a 16-year-old girl in 1961 London who has a quintessential coming-of-age experience. Mulligan is absolutely charming and remarkably perceptive in the role. I may as well me the 300th reviewer to compare her to Audrey Hepburn, but the comparison is unmistakable. I'm sure this movie will lead to many more opportunities for this actress.
Now on to the movie as a whole. I enjoyed An Education quite a lot. It's the kind of movie that is easy to watch, unpredictable in its turns, and strikes an balance between its light and dark sides. I The movie is mostly concerned with Jenny's relationship with a much older man (Peter Sarsgaard) and how that contributes to her "education." Sarsgaard has a very tricky role. He has to be charming enough for the audience to like him and see how Jenny could like him, but also questionable enough to raise doubts. Sarsgaard plays the role very well.
The rest of the supporting cast is also excellent, particularly Alfred Molina as Jenny's typically middle-class father and Rosamund Pike as a new friend. Emma Thompson is biting in a small role as well.
What I found most interesting about the movie was how initially it seemed to be a movie about the pull between Jenny's parents and her new boyfriend, but they actually don't end up being on opposite sides. If anything, they are all in a sort of unknowing collusion against Jenny's true promise. In order to grow she has to find her own way, with a little help. It's a good message, I think, and the movie tells it with effortless grace. It's not a groundbreaking film, but it's a story very well told. Easily one of the most entertaining films of 2009. And seriously, keep an eye on Carey Mulligan.