An Education

2009

An Education

Critics Consensus

Though the latter part of the film may not appeal to all, An Education is a charming coming-of-age tale powered by the strength of relative newcomer Carey Mulligan's standout performance.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 190

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 54,873
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An Education Photos

Movie Info

It's 1961 and attractive, bright 16-year-old schoolgirl, Jenny is poised on the brink of womanhood. Stifled by the tedium of adolescent routine, Jenny can't wait for adult life to begin. One rainy day, her suburban life is upended by the arrival of an unsuitable suitor, 30- ish David. Urbane and witty, David introduces Jenny to a glittering new world of classical concerts and late-night suppers. Just as the family's long-held dream of getting their brilliant daughter into Oxford seems within reach, Jenny is tempted by another kind of life. Will David be the making of Jenny or her undoing?

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Cast

Emma Thompson
as Headmistress
Olivia Williams
as Miss Stubbs
Cara Seymour
as Marjorie
William Melling
as Small Boy
Nick Sampson
as Auctioneer
Kate Duchene
as Latin Teacher
Bel Parker
as Small Girl
Luis Soto
as Rachman
Olenka Wrzesniewski
as Shakespeare Girl
Bryony Wadsworth
as Shakespeare Girl
Ashley Taylor-Rhys
as Petrol Attendant
James Norton
as Student
Beth Rowley
as Nightclub Singer
Ben Castle
as Nightclub Band Member
Mark Edwards
as Nightclub Band Member
Tom Rees-Roberts
as Nightclub Band Member
Arnie Somogyi
as Nightclub Band Member
Paul Wilkinson
as Nightclub Band Member
Phil Wilkinson
as Nightclub Band Member
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News & Interviews for An Education

Critic Reviews for An Education

All Critics (190) | Top Critics (43)

  • This is a lovely, delicious film with fine acting and a unique plot.

    Jan 16, 2018 | Full Review…

    Ed Koch

    The Atlantic
    Top Critic
  • You may think you know where the film is going, but its ecstasy and heartbreak will stick with you afterward. It's one of the year's best.

    Dec 15, 2009
  • The centerpiece of An Education is the breakout performance of young Carey Mulligan. She is enchanting, and almost convincing as the teenage Jenny, though she can't completely obscure the (justified) suspicion that she's in her twenties and old enough f

    Nov 22, 2009 | Full Review…
  • The combination of a literate script, an adroit cast and an economical style is simple addition that achieves an alchemical feat: the best film of the year.

    Nov 11, 2009 | Rating: 4/4
  • A beguiling little film that, with deceptive restraint and forthrightness, opens up worlds of roiling, contradictory emotions.

    Nov 5, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The movie belongs to Mulligan, whose Jenny looks like Audrey Hepburn when she puts her hair up and dons a black dress, and like every teenage girl who's had her heart broken when she cries.

    Nov 5, 2009 | Rating: 4/4

Audience Reviews for An Education

  • Nov 17, 2012
    One of the weakest Best Picture nominees in recent memory - though it's no Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - An Education tells of a hard lesson learned while growing up but falls short of the truly affecting story it was shooting for. And while Carey Mulligan is very good in her role, and Alfred Molina brilliant as her stodgy father, I think this movie's downfall can be pinned on this movie's leading man - if not Peter Sarsgaard himself, then the character that was written for him. He's not overly attractive, or smooth, or rebellious, or sexy, or... anything. So why does the young woman fall hopelessly in love with him? To an extent, I can see this as the point - that we'll be blind to flaws when we're infatuated, particularly when we're young - but there is nothing compelling about him not only from a love-interest standpoint, but also from an audience standpoint. The various strange things he does throughout the film don't lead anywhere in terms of setting the stage for a logical surprise ending (and I say surprise ending cautiously: I never see endings coming, I'm not sure how shocking it truly was). It's hard to play an ambiguous character, but as my interest in the lead male waned, so too did my desire to finish the film. The little details along the way didn't build suspense, they just fizzled. It's a decent film that captures a Britain in transition and has the bones of a good story, but more a nuanced lead male role could have made it much better.
    Daniel P Super Reviewer
  • Aug 08, 2012
    Everything felt perfect while watching this film. The camerawork, the settings, the acting, the characters, and the script all felt picture perfect, kind of like staring at a work of art and not really knowing what to say. As a young girl works hard to attend Oxford School for English, she bumps into a man every now and again, eventually falling for him. He appears 40, as she states she is 17. This movie is definitely not for everyone, and I did feel uncomfortable watching it sometimes, but I can't deny that it is wonderfully directed and well-performed. Carrey Mulligan is pure and elegant in this film. In the conclusion, you will find yourself invested and ready for anything that is about to happen. "An Education" is great!
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Jul 16, 2012
    Based on the real life story of writer Lynn Barber, "An Education" tells the story of a 16 year old school girl who is seduced into a jetset lifestyle by a wealthy older man. The older man (Peter Sarsgaard) claims to be in his late 20s, but is more likely in his late 30s. He takes her to fancy restaurants, classical music concerts and fancy art auctions, all things her middle class, stick-in-the-mud parents (Alfred Molina, Cara Seymour) would never do with her. When news of her engagement to the older man reaches her school, her chances of entering Oxford (her, or should I say, her parents life long goal for her) are endangered, and the girl must choose between a boring life and an exciting one. Why would this character work so hard all her life for a goal if she wasn't really interested in pursuing it? She screams at her teacher and principal that she doesn't want to waste any more of her life studying boring dead languages only so she might earn a degree and go into some boring field of work that she might waste away in it until she dies. It's a rather emphatic statement, and one that makes almost no sense when the big "change-of-heart" ending comes about. At best, she's a directionless waif who bases her life choices on what others tell her to do, at worst, she turns out to be the worst kind of insipid girl (completely contradictory to what the film describes her character as) who makes life choices based on a self-acknowledged phony romance. That a girl portrayed as such a strong character for the majority of the movie should have a complete character breakdown in the final act does not inspire me or make me feel enlightened. Real life events were changed for dramatic effect, but this dramatic effect is counter to the character established. Why? The change serves no real purpose to the story, other than to weaken it. In fact, An Education lacks overall, never rising above the storyline that's been done before (a film set in the sixties that's actually a throwback to similar films from the sixties: "Georgie Girl", etc.). Uninspiring.
    Devon B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 08, 2012
    An Education is a charming and mature coming-of-age romance with an incredible breakthrough performance from Carey Mulligan and other great performances from Peter Sarsgaard and Alfred Molina. The film is alternately joyful and poignant, but is ultimately a very touching story about Carey Mulligan's Jenny growing up and experiencing the ups and downs of love and life. The ending bravely defies that which we've come to expect from similar films, creating a welcome feeling of originality that's all too uncommon from coming-of-age films like this. An Education stands out as being an exceptional entry in this genre, and one that is as delightful and enjoyable as it is affecting.
    Joey S Super Reviewer

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