Sunday, November 29, 2009

'An Education" (2009)

Rating:★★★★
Category:Movies
Genre: Drama
Saw this film last night and found the acting and the story-telling very impressive. Set in London and environs in 1961, the film is a Cinderella story for grown-ups. Jenny is a product of middle-class British society, a shaky fault line shifting rapidly: the traditional drab post-war austerity, and a more cosmopolitan world coming from the input of a new generation of teenagers, angry and tired of this "same old, same old" world.
"Angry Young Man" playwrights like John Osborne, the paperback popularity of French philosophers like Camus, and the infectious sounds of American music all heralded this new shift in culture an we see the conflicts played out here between Jenny's family and the world her new and much older boyfriend offers her. But all is not what it seems.
Casey Mulligan, who is being touted as a new major star, does well as a mature and whip-smart teenager who gets a lesson in real-world values, and Albert Molina as her insecure middle-class dad who wants her to go to Oxford very badly---unless she can get a suitable marriage partner --are both likely to get Oscar nominations for this one.

The truth is the whole cast is right on the mark; the soundtrack of jazz and rhytmn and blues classics gives this film the sense and sensibilities of the period.

It also shows the fine line between a bright young and attractive school girl walks between two types of "an education"--the world of academic sophistication and real-life maturity, and the gritty and sordid realities that can lurk underneath the demi-monde of trendy jazz clubs, art galleries and Paris weekends--things that would naturally attract a young and clever liberal arts devotee.


17 comments:

  1. I saw this film many years ago, and found it to be a slice-of-life story which was completely engaging. Nowadays, it transcends its early appeal and also captivates people on a second level -- those wanting to see British society, with all of its movement and social chaos, in the '60's.

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  2. Hmmm. Seems a little on the mushy side to me, but then I was kid in the 60's in Britain.

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  3. What is intriguing is getting a taste of 'how it could be', so to speak, then playing it through and seeing its tarnished edges before plunging in and foregoing a lot of things many who've done so regret foregoing...but then it's too late. Of course, youth is the beauty that never listens. There's the intoxication and the rub. I've never seen this movie, but it appears universal and engaging in its theme. Plus, I love Emma Thompson. TY for the review, Doug. I'll look for it in Holland, which doesn't always have them all. Still, I'm glad for the tip. I just saw '500 Days of Summer' with 3rd Rock's 'Tommy' grown-up and doing one helluva(n) acting job. Thumbs up on that one. Love the music too.

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  4. Thanks for posting this clip Doug, its about a world that seems about as remote from me as it from you separated by a number of years and thousands of miles. The trials and tribulations of the English Middle Class tells a part of a story that was a million miles from the folk clubs and 'derries' I inhabited as a kid growing up in industrial West Midlands. Oxford colleges and Penguin paperbacks of The Plague is part of the story, Paris was doable...... but to my circle of friends it was just not especially desirable, we thought Birmingham was more hip at that time, Johnny Holiday was credibility rating zilch I'm afraid.

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  5. Thanks for posting this clip Doug, its about a world that seems about as remote from me as it from you separated by a number of years and thousands of miles I think. The trials and tribulations of the English Middle Class tells a part of a story that was a million miles from the folk clubs and 'derries' I inhabited as a kid growing up in industrial West Midlands. Oxford colleges and Penguin paperbacks of The Plague is part of the story, Paris was doable...... but to my circle of friends it was just not especially desirable, we thought Birmingham was more hip at that time, Johnny Holiday was credibility rating zilch I'm afraid.

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  6. It's actually a new film, Astra, although in a way you are quite correct because it seems from the trailer like a film that was made in that era and somehow put on a shelf for forty-odd years. The painstaking recreation of that era--or any era for that matter--is one of the joys of watching a good film, as long as the story matches the period details in talent and character.

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  7. A bit of mush here and there, Jim, but at the end of the film you find that it is practicality and good sense hard won, not stylized romantic love, that carries the day.

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  8. You're right Red--youth doesn't listen too well and we all have the scars inside to prove it I imagine. Emma Thompson has a couple excellent scenes here. And I liked "500 Days"as well--a film which breaks some of the usual rules about romantic films and gives some extra value for the price of the ticket in my view. ( I put my review of that film below, in case you wanted to see it. It also, like "An Education", features a fine soundtrack worthy of a very good film.

    Thanks for those takes, Red. I think you'll likely enjoy this film. :-)


    http://dnoakes.multiply.com/video/item/148/Sweet_Disposition--_The_Temper_Trapfrom_500_Days_of_Summer

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  9. I look forward to your feedback if you get a chance to see this one, Frank.

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  10. One of the first scenes of this movie shows a main character who says something snarky about Birmingham and "Brummie" accents, AA. I couldn't help thinking of what you wrote in one of your blogs about how snotty other Brits could be about your fair city. "I hope the filmmaker isn't on this joker's side," I said to myself. (San Jose was a bit of a Birmingham compared to San Francisco in my day.) Thankfully, she wasn't on his side.

    You're right in that this film has a certain element of "remoteness" that appeals to me, seeing a foreign society--or a bit of it--on the fringes of big and more democratic changes. This same sort of story could have been set in America of the early 60's, which makes it remote and still quite familiar at the same time. Probably that's why this one stands out for me.

    Good to hear not every group of young people were caught up in trying to be "Swells in Ten Easy Lessons." It 's a lesson the young lady needs to learn that others didn't I suppose.
    Thanks for the feedback as always :-)

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  11. Correction:- I meant Johnny Hallyday

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  12. I barely recognize the name. AA. I'll have to look up more info on this fellow--its not every entertainer who hits "credibility rating zilch." You gotta be pure glitz to pull that off.

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  13. I've heard this is one of THE films of the year. But your recommendation carries far more weight than any of those lazy film critics so I think I need to go and check it out. Thanks Doug

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  14. Thanks Ian. I certainly try not to steer anyone wrong.

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  15. Oh, I went to play the video and for some reason it has been removed. Of course, that makes me want to see it even more! I'll have to look aound for it.

    Thank you Doug, sorry I didn't see it sooner.

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  16. I guess the studio probably had it pulled so a viewer would have to go to its official website to see it, Cassandra. A shame really--all it does is sell the film, which I'm doing for free.

    If you get a chance to see the trailer I think you'll at the very least be interested in seeing that a cello has a minor role in the opening scene. :-)

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