A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age. What time of education can you learn from more? An education in life or a school/university education?
Wow – is pretty much the best way to begin the review of this film. With so much critical acclaim and award nominations I was afraid that I would be left disappointed with this film. However, I am very pleased to say I was very impressed. Admittedly I did not really know that much about the film before seeing it, mainly that it is a breakout performance from Carey Mulligan and it really is. The film gave me so many thinking points, and I could very much relate to the character at different stages of the film.
As the film begins Jenny is a 16-year-old school girl who is currently doing her A Level’s with the aim of then attending Oxford University to study English. She plays the Cello because her father thinks it would look very good when having an interview for Oxford. He is very pushy and really has his sights set on Oxford for his daughter. However, all of this is completely turned around one day when David gives Jenny a ride how as she waits for the bus in the rain. He wants to take her out and take her different places, he can talk round her father. He is a lot older than Jenny and something does seem quite strange about it all or should I see something was rather odd about David.
As Jenny begins to experience different things she starts to wonder and question whether she actually does want to go to Oxford or not. Everything she has worked so hard for no longer seems valid. She unfolds before our eyes in not knowing what is right anymore. I could totally relate to this as I have done the whole University thing and at times it really does seem all so pointless and you question why exactly you are doing it.
Not only does she question that, she even turns a blind eye to how David and his friend Danny making money in corrupt ways. David could talk anyone round to his way of thinking. Be it Jenny or even her father who is totally taken in by him.
As it all unfolds and the story takes a twist and a few turns (which I have to admit that I did not guess exactly what happened, but could see something was going to happen) the scenes between Jenny and her father really were very moving and touching. I found their relationship to actually be quite brilliant in terms of while he was very dictating to begin with, he always had his daughters best interests at heart. He wanted her to have a good life. The ending scenes when he talks to her through the door were great.
The other moving relationship I found very touching was between Jenny and her English teacher Miss Stubbs. As Miss Stubbs also wants Jenny to go to Oxford and really make live better for herself. She is not happy with the whole David situation and really wants to help Jenny out. I find this extremely nice with the criticism teachers seem to come under a lot. Everyone would have loved a teacher like Miss Stubbs and I even had a couple of them whilst I was at school.
Another thinking point this film presented to me had to be how at 16 a girl is still very naive and will pretty much be taken back by a handsome man who is older with more life experience. As you want to believe them and don’t know any different or even any reason for them to lie to you.
While the film had serious moments it had some very light-hearted moments with a few laughs in as well. I have to admit the whole first time sex scene with a banana being shown/mentioned really did make me laugh a lot. I found it a positive that Jenny did not want to lose her virginity until she was 17 as she was by no means going to be pressured into it before she was ready.
The ending for me really helped show that no matter what happens, and if for a few moments you lose your focus on what you really want you can still achieve everything. It might just take a little while longer than you first planned. Also that you can leave a part of your life behind and start fresh, you do not need to let the new people in your life completely into your past. Learn from your mistakes and move on!
Overall, the performances were just outstanding from all members of the cast. Carey Mulligan really does deserve all the praise she has already received for this film. I really felt a lot of the emotions through her acting in relation to the different events. Emma Thompson was her usual brilliant self in the short scenes she appeared in. I found Alfred Molina to be excellent as Jenny’s father and Peter Sarsgaard was so believable in his role I would have fallen for all the things he told Jenny. A brilliant British film which shows that while it may no longer be the 60’s teenage girls still have the same dilemmas as they always have for years now. But will you fall for a man or keep your education going? I guess that is only something that time will tell.