“An Education” is a 2009 coming-of-age British film that made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival last year and received critical acclaim. The movie stars actors Emma Thompson, Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan, who was a nominee in the Best Actress category of the Academy Awards this past year.
I had a chance to recently watch “An Education.” What follows is my own review of this autobiographical memoir written by British author, Lynn Barber.
Like most high school seniors, the driving force behind all of Jenny Mellor’s actions is the dream of being accepted to her dream college: The University of Oxford. Jenny excels in all of her subjects, except Latin. Her father puts a lot of pressure on her to improve her Latin skills and earn a higher education so that she will do better than he did.
Jenny is smart, pretty, and popular, but her life is pretty boring. She dreams of going to Paris, attending concerts, and viewing fine works of art. However, this does not seem like it is in the cards for Jenny. Until she meets David.
David is an older man, twice as old as Jenny, to be exact, who shares Jenny’s passion for high culture. The two meet when Jenny is walking home from school in the rain, her cello getting soaked by the rain. David offers to give her cello a ride home in his expensive sports car; Jenny and the cello end up taking the ride.
Their relationship begins sweetly and innocently enough. Jenny’s parents also adore David and allow Jenny to go to Oxford with David to meet C.S. Lewis, the author of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” whom David says is an old friend of his.
Things start to look suspicious when David and Jenny get to Oxford, but C.S. Lewis is not there. David never knew C.S. Lewis; he just used the lie to convince Jenny’s parents to let her join him on the weekend adventure.
Jenny ends up falling in love with David. Then David proposes to her and Jenny accepts his proposal, despite warnings from her teachers and mentor, Miss Stubbs. When Jenny’s headmistress tries to convince Jenny to stay in school and pursue her education, Jenny becomes frustrated and exclaims:
“Studying is hard and boring. Teaching is hard and boring. So, what you’re telling me is to be bored, and then bored, and finally bored again, but this time for the rest of my life? This whole stupid country is bored! There’s no life in it, or color, or fun! So my choice is to do something hard and boring, or to marry [David], and go to Paris and Rome and listen to jazz, and read, and eat good food in nice restaurants, and have fun! It’s not enough to educate us anymore Ms. Walters. You’ve got to tell us why you’re doing it.”
This is a wonderful movie and I absolutely loved it. “An Education” poses the question of the true worth of an education. Is it really just a boring way to spend your life, as Jenny says, or is it one of the best pursuits we can undertake?
I highly recommend you rent this film this weekend, watch it, and decide for yourself.