An Education (2009)
Wonderful, expressive acting by the self-assured Carey Mulligan, the alluring Peter Sarsgaard, and the witty Alfred Molina (as well as the rest of the ensemble) takes center stage as An Education whirls us back to the swinging sixties with imagination, fascination and a thorn in the flesh to the class system and the patriarchal social order which was about to crumble. The first part of this film, directed with some bias, as it turns out, by Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig, is a beautiful and direct love story between the bright and bored middle-class teenager Jenny (Mulligan) and the carefree and joie-de-vivre-ish art connoisseur David (Sarsgaard). Their romance is told delicately, as Scherfig portrays the mutual fascination the two lovers has for each other. The 'education', as it is, thus goes both ways: David shows Jenny the opportunities the world has to offer; Jenny teaches David a thing or two about his own emotional life. A bubbling set design and wonderful cinematography help bring the film to life and give it an irresistibility matching that of David himself. With great dosages of witty, arch-British humour (particularly from Molina), An Education looks to have it all for at least a good hour of its running time.
Things only start to flounder when the film starts feeling obliged to say something meaningful about the moral it portrays. There is nothing wrong about neither Jenny’s or David’s choices in the end – they turn out to be the way the need to be. But Scherfig’s hasty and justifying closure is unsatsifactory and breaks with the film’s otherwise elegant pacing and angle. We feel deprived of a decent conclusion to the two lives we've gotten to know as David and the teenage version of Jenny is brushed aside as inferior when An Education decides to own up to its responsibilities.