There are two main reasons that this film had buzz: first, the strong interrelationship of multiple threads that run through it and continually reconnect its thick story, and secondly, its total Jewish immersion. Love it or hate it, this film rewires the senses and frees them to question existence.
Directed by Lone Scherfig, An Education is a moody coming-of-age film set in 1960s London. I found it to be spot-on super.
An Education opens at an all-girls strict private school with the girls, naturally, walking with books on their heads to ensure good posture. Jenny (played by Carey Mulligan) is a sixth form school girl (senior) who can think of nothing but getting into Oxford, singing along with forbidden French records and pleasing her parents — within reason.
Everything changes when Jenny meets the charming but much older David (Peter Sarsgaard) who offers her a lift home in his sports car. Their friendship evolves from exchanging glances over expensive dates that don't end in a kiss to this-is-the-one look.
Jenny makes four and is one quarter of two couples who pal around. David and his friend Danny quickly display their English egos that require well-appointed townhouses, lavish dinners, and trophy consorts. In the life and the film about "Jenny" Danny and Helen have front row seats to the mayhem and deception that awaits the cute 16-year-old turning 17 when she trusts a playboy and his declaration of love.
Films made from memoirs can often drag or focus on one single aspect of a life to the detriment of the overall story. But the brilliant acting by Miss Mulligan has garnered Oscar buzz and quashed the cliche that straightforward movies often get stuck in.
Jenny thinks she is a real woman trapped in a girl's bodice but Mulligan's performance breathes a mountain of life into flat pages because she is neither scripted nor sainted. She rails at her Latin teacher about the expected ennui embedded in English culture. Her rant and the warning voices of authority both come back to bite her in the butt.
She's not a woman after all and will swallow her British pride and turn to the women in her life to complete her education. An Education is all about appeal and lacks nothing. You will leave the theatre but this film won't leave you even after the music is silent and the credits roll.