An Education

Rating – ****

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A refreshing meditation on the big lessons in life. The entire cast is superb, especially Alfred Molina who charmingly portrays the hypocrisy of conservative values in 1960’s Britain. He expertly avoids the pitfalls which could have rendered his character as mere comic relief. While he is indeed very funny, there is genuine warmth in his bumbling fatherly rants. Carey Mulligan’s much hyped star making role doesn’t disappoint either.

The one fault I can’t ignore is the film’s betrayal of its own values towards the very end. In the preceding 90 minutes we watch a compelling and irrefutable argument that there are no shortcuts to true success. But then everything is wrapped up with a neat little bow via the classic (or cliché?) medium of musical montage (But hey, “even Rocky had a montage”) This type of lazy storytelling was summed up best by The Simpsons. After the children of Springfield Elementary School become marooned on a desert island, they are forced to fend for themselves. They overcome big problems through teamwork and Lord of the Flies style justice. In the episode’s final moments the camera drifts away from their idyllic campfire gathering on the beach. Brimming with benevolent wisdom, the voice of James Earl states “So the children learned how to function as a society, and eventually they were rescued by, oh, let’s say… Moe”

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I’m not saying An Education sinks to those extremes, but I’d have happily sat in the cinema for an extra 20 minutes so events could unfold more naturally. Yet regardless, this is still rewarding drama of the highest calibre.

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~ by thewholebuffalo on November 1, 2009.

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