An Education

2009

An Education (2009)

TOMATOMETER

Critic 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.

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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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Critic Reviews for An Education

All Critics (190) | Top Critics (39)

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

Jan 16, 2018 | Full Review…
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

½

Good, but slightly disappointing as I really expected to love this one. Something about that character just annoyed the living crap out of me, I found her smug and a little upstart, and quite honestly by the time the story inevitably went to hell, it took me that long to feel anything for her at all. (And I do generally like Carey Mulligan in films). Peter Sarsgaard's character is just a sleazy conman and the pair have zero chemistry. While I can appreciate the idea of a young girl from a modest background who wants something more out of life than to get married and breed or have a dead end job in the town she was born in, this girl was really a little cow at times. So condescending and pretentious with her speaking in French etc. The only reason I eventually felt sorry for her was because I hated him so much more! It is not by any means a bad film, it is very well made and some beautiful scenery in France and also the 60's outfits. Just something with me personally found this grating. I wish I had liked it more. 2017 - rewatched this as I wondered if it was just my mood at the time - it really does seem like a character I could relate to. Nope. Still not into it. I think I loathed him even more the second time around and I still found her insufferable.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

½

Has the heart at the right spot and comes with fine acting performances, especially by the great Molina and then-newcomer Mulligan but lacks a bit of punch. The plot burbles along without any major highlights until the final revelation. That's somewhat charming but also, sorry, a bit boring.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

A charming, provocative and, above all, mature coming-of-age drama with a simple yet morally complex story that never gives in to easy solutions - and, while the cast is wonderful, it is Carey Mulligan who definitely shines in a remarkable performance.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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 Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

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